Wrisley Funeral Home
90 Sugarloaf Street, South Deerfield, MA 01373
Office: 413-665-4046             Fax: 413-665-0975

Charles Bohonowicz

Calling hours will be Sunday from 5-7pm, funeral services will be Monday at 11am in the Wrisley Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. Randy Calvo officiating. Burial will be in the spring in St. Stanislaus Cemetery, South Deerfield

South Deerfield, Ma - Charles J Bohonowicz (1928-2017)

Charles Bohonowicz, Founder of Pioneer Aviation died on December 12, 2017 at the age of 89. The cause of death was lung cancer caused by mesothelioma.


Charles was born January 24, 1928, in Whately to the farming family of Peter and Mary (Karabin) Bohonowicz. The youngest of 8 children, he attended Whately grammar and middle schools but did not finish high school due to the demands of running the family farm. He eventually earned his GED diploma while in the US army.


As a boy aviation fascinated him; and throughout his childhood he dreamed of flying. Finally during the winter of 1948, using money he earned from growing tobacco, he took his first flying lesson in a piper cub outfitted with ski’s, at what was then the old Pilgrim airport. By that summer he had earned his pilot’s license and in his log book he wrote “a dream come true”.


After being discharged from the army in 1955, he used his GI benefits to pursue an aviation career and enrolled at East Coast Aero Tech in Bedford MA earning his aircraft mechanic license. Upon graduation he moved his family to Long Island where he was employed by Republic Aircraft as a technical inspector for the F105 Thunderchief. Charlie continued to advance his career and credentials by performing aircraft maintenance, inspections, and radio installations at Long Island based Zhans airport. He eventually went on to be employed as a co-pilot/mechanic for Long Island based Commander Airlines. Aside from flying and repairing aircraft Charlie always wanted his own aircraft maintenance and flight school business. So in 1970, with his wife’s blessing, they sold their home in Long Island, moved back to South Deerfield and established Pioneer Aviation in Turners Falls, Ma. Based on the reputation Charlie established in Long Island, pilots from NY and New England continued to fly their aircraft to Pioneer Aviation for routine inspections and maintenance. In addition, many of today’s area pilots learned to fly in airplanes by instructors employed at Pioneer Aviation. Charlie piloted aircraft for almost 70 years and belonged to several flying organizations including the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the United Flying Octogenarian Association, and was a Quiet Birdman. He also received the FAA Master Pilot award. Charlie was also proud of the fact that all three of his children became certified pilots; his daughter soloing 2 different airplane types on her 16th birthday, Gary becoming a Certified Flight Instructor and his son Bruce assuming the day to day operations of the business that he founded 47 years ago. Charlie once said “a mile of road will take you a mile, a mile of runway will take you anywhere”. It was with that spirit that Charlie and his wife Gertrude traveled at every opportunity. They spent winters in Florida, cruised throughout the Caribbean, Alaska and visited Mexico. It was on one special trip to Oaxaca Mexico that he was able spent time with a child he was sponsoring through the Christian Children’s Fund. Through his generosity he eventually went on to sponsor a total of three children with the CCF organization.


Charlie was married for 56 years to Gertrude (Petrikoski) Bohonowicz who predeceased him in 2005. He leaves his son Gary, his wife Deborah, grandson Christopher and a great grandchild Charli. Also, his youngest son Bruce and his wife Janice who passed away in 2016. Charlie also leaves his only daughter Doreen Tilley, her husband Mark and granddaughter Alexandra. In addition, he leaves many great nieces and nephews along with a very dear friend Isabel Barcome of Westfield, Ma.


Services and arrangements are under the direction of Wrisley Funeral Home, 90 Sugarloaf St., South Deerfield, Ma. Calling hours will be Sunday from 5-7pm, funeral services will be Monday at 11am in the Wrisley Funeral Home Chapel with Rev. Randy Calvo officiating. Burial will be in the spring in St. Stanislaus Cemetery, South Deerfield. In lieu of flowers please send donations in memory of Charlie to Shriners Hospital for Children, 576 Carew St., Springfield, Ma, 01104-2396 or Hospice of Franklin County, 329 Conway St., Greenfield, Ma, 01301.