BALTIMORE- J. Fife Symington Jr., father of the former governor of Arizona, died of old-age complications Sunday at the Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. The Glyndon, Md., resident was 97.
Symington was a longtime Pan American World Airways employee and former ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago.
“He was a courageous man,” said his son, J. Fife Symington III. “He had the heart of a lion and, through thick and thin, he was there for his friends and family.”
Born in Baltimore, he was attracted to flying through an uncle, John Hambleton, a World War I flying ace who was a Pan American founder. After graduating from the Kent School in Kent, Conn., he earned a bachelor’s degree at Princeton University in 1933.
“It was the depths of the Depression. You couldn’t buy a job,” he said in an oral history interview done in 2003.
“So I borrowed some cash and went over all the routes that Pan American was flying,” he said of his trips to Miami, Fla., San Juan, Trinidad and along the east coast of South America in 1933.