Joseph M. Abernathy
Died: July 13, 2009
Joseph Milam Abernathy began his career as an airport engineer in his native state of South Dakota in 1939. After working at several airports in South Dakota and Montana he entered the Civil Engineer Corps of the United States Navy in 1942 and he built air fields for the Navy's island-hopping war from Guadalcanal to Okinawa. At the end of the war he settled in Rhinelander, where he continued to build airports for the Genisot Engineering Company and acquired his pilot's certificate.
In 1962, Abernathy became Chief Airport Engineer for the Wisconsin Division (later Bureau) of Aeronautics and continued to build airports. By the time he retired in 1984, Abernathy had worked on at least 70 airports in Wisconsin. The work of an engineer can be easily overlooked, but by providing the basic infrastructure necessary for a safe and efficient airport system, Joe Abernathy has left an indelible mark on aviation in Wisconsin.