Message Boards

Message Boards (
-   River Talk & Cruises (
-   -   Captain Dennis Ray Trone (

Bob Reynolds 05-05-2008 09:33 PM

Captain Dennis Ray Trone
I received the sad news just a few minutes ago that Capt. Dennis Trone was killed earlier today in an airplane crash near Broadhead, Wisconsin. Denny loved, owned and flew antique airplanes as a hobby for many years. I have no other details on this terrible accident; more as we learn more.

Capt. Trone, for thoose who do not know him, was an exceptional man. He was from central Illinois, and he had been an officer in the U.S. Navy. It didn't suit him, though, and rather than continue a naval career, he came back to the heartland and went to work for the Dubuque Boat and Boiler Company of Dubuque, IA, designing excursion boats. The last boat to be built at D.B.&B. Co. was the Str. JULIA BELLE SWAIN, that Denny built in, I believe, 1971, using Gillett and Eaton steam engines and other parts from the Str. CITY OF BATON ROUGE. Capt. Trone operated this boat for years at Peoria, Illinois on the Illinois River, and in the winters for several years took the boat to Chattanooga, TN and ran her there, sometimes even going up to Knoxville. Not only was Denny a crackerjack pilot and captain, but he was also a licensed steam engineer.

Capt. Trone pioneered the modern concept of running boats for 2-day-long excursions with lodging on shore -- he first did this on the Illinois from Peoria up to Starved Rock State Park, and then on the Tennessee between Chattanooga and Knoxville. His last venture was to build the motor vessel TWILIGHT, a lovely screw propelled boat in the steamboat style (but no fake paddlewheel!), and operated the TWILIGHT as a companion with the JULIA BELLE SWAIN between LeClaire, IA and Chestnut Mountain Lodge near Galena, IL. He was very succesful with this. He sold the J.B.S. and retired several years ago.

Capt. Trone was a true renaissance man, who was as friendly as he was smart and talented. A real loss for the passenger boat community on the rivers.

R. Dale Flick 05-05-2008 10:35 PM

Dear Bob and steamboating colleagues:
Just in from late meeting in Cincinnati. So very sorry to learn of the loss of Capt. Dennis Trone. Information will be forthcoming via the media and other links. Makes us all think that we live but from breath to breath. We all come together as friends and colleagues--forget the trivial.

"There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the most high." No. 46 Deus noster refugium.

R. Dale Flick - Coal Haven Landing, Cincinnati.

allen dale 05-05-2008 10:38 PM

I will pray for Libby and the Kids. I am so sad to hear of the loss of this nice man who gave me some of the most memorable times on the Illinois River.

David Tschiggfrie 05-06-2008 09:02 AM

Dear friends of Capt. Trone,

Just received this e-mail from the editor of the Brodhead (WI) Independent-Register.

"The crash of a single engine aircraft near the Brodhead Airport claimed the life of a Petersburg, Illinois man about 5 p.m. on Monday afternoon. Dennis Trone, 77, was the lone occupant of the aircraft and pronounced dead at the scene. The Green County Sheriff's Department received a 911 call from a passing motorist describing the crash in a field 400 yards south of the airport. The pilot was flying a local pattern, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. Green County deputies, the Brodhead Fire Department, Brodhead EMS and Brodhead police responded to the scene. Trone, retired from the Navy, leaves a wife and four children. He was a regular flier at the airport, logging many hours per week. The cause of the crash remains under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, Federal Aviation Administration, the Green County Sheriff's Department and the Green County Coroner's office."

As additional information becomes available, I will keep you posted. What a tremendous loss the river community has suffered with the passing of this multi-talented individual. Jonathan and I were scheduled to interview Capt. Trone this coming June as part of his research paper on steam calliopes on the inland rivers. The TWILIGHT is enroute this morning from LeClaire to Newt's drydock in Dubuque, and it will be a very sad, somber trip for all of them, I'm sure.

Barbara Huffman 05-06-2008 11:08 AM

Sad irony . . .
So sorry to hear about Capt. Trone. Our hearts go out to Libby and family.

It's so ironic. MOR rode the TWILIGHT in July 1999. Just before boarding, John Kennedy Jr. was lost in his plane near Martha's Vineyard. Dennis stopped by my table sometime during the cruise and he started talking about flying. Told him I used to fly all the time (and never thought anything about it), but over the years had decided that would never be my chosen mode of travel ever again. With a grin and a wink, Dennis replied that he would never quit flying . . .

allen dale 05-06-2008 11:48 AM

I have a dear friend, Dwayne Estes that resides in St. Louis, Mo. He would like to be notified either by phone or email as to when and where the funeral will be held for Dennis trone. Here is his info..
Dwayne Estes
4225 S.Grand
St. Louis, MO. 63111
Dwayne played the calliope on the JBS from 1975-1977 when she sailed cruises from Evansvile, IN.

Carrie Stier 05-06-2008 04:38 PM

1 Attachment(s)
Captain Dennis R. Trone
July 18, 1930
May 5, 2008

Captain Dennis Trone was killed Monday in a single engine airplane accident near the Brodhead WI airport.

For his friends in the close knit communities of riverboats and airplanes, the death of Denny means the loss of a great deal of knowledge and experience that can never be replaced.

To me, it means the loss of a dear friend, mentor and hero. Denny was a man of greatness but also of the utmost simplicity and genuineness. His heart always belonged to the underdog and he was generous to a fault, be it with money, his talents or simply his presence. He could be a bit cantankerous, and had no trouble expressing himself especially when championing his business or family, and we loved him for it. I can never repay the debt I owe to him for the kindness and loving support he has shown to Kevin and I over the past 23 years.

There was, no doubt, an unexplained sensation that struck us all last night, before we even heard the news. That is the kind of connection he had with all who’s life’s he touched. Many blogs have already posted the news of his passing and many people have generously shared their memories.

Denny died, as he would have wanted, in the air, enjoying life with reckless abandon as he always did.

Denny flies on ahead of his loving, faithful and ever supportive wife of many years, Elizabeth (Libby) of Petersburg IL. Four daughters—Janet Trone, Lisa (Dennis) McLaughlin and Sophia Trone of California and Amanda (Paul) Serra of Pennsylvania. One son, Robert (Nancy) of Minnesota. His grandchildren, Elizabeth and Victoria Serra and Robert and Katie Trone.

Services have not yet been scheduled, but will most likely be held in Rushville IL, the town where he was born and raised. Check back for updated information.

Carrie & Kevin Stier

Now take back the soul of Dennis R Trone, whom You have shared with us. He brought us joy...we loved him well.
Borrowed from Karen Blixen….Out of Africa

Carrie Stier 05-06-2008 11:01 PM

Services for Dennis Trone
A short funeral service will be held Saturday May 10th, at 10:00am at the Worthington Funeral Home, 331 W. Washington St., Rushville IL 62681. Internment will be at the Rushville City Cemetery where Denny will be laid to rest next to his father and mother.

A memorial service will follow at the First Christian Church, 210 S. 8th St., Petersburg IL 62675 beginning at 1:30pm.

The family has requested no flowers be sent and memorials be of the donors choice.

Carmen 05-07-2008 05:51 AM


Thanks for posting the obituary and the information about the funeral service.

Franz and I had the great pleasure to meet Dennis back in 1998. He gave us a tour through the then Mississippi River Museum showing us his office desk. When we said goodbye he replied if we ever find a double decker plane in a barn over here in Germany he wants to know about it.


Alan Bates 05-07-2008 06:19 AM

Dennis Trone was the finest sternwheel riverboat designer of our time. The Twilight and the Julia Belle Swain are his monuments, but he dersigned many other excursion boats.

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:24 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.0 PL2
All content on this site is copyright protected and may not be re-used without written permission.