Jacques Charlton Guequierre, age 90, was cleared for departure and “flew west” Jan. 18, 2020, from Seasons Hospice at the Christiana Hospital, Wilmington, Delaware, with his daughter, Leci, by his side.
Born in 1929 in Philadelphia, he was the oldest son of Dr. Alice Charlton Guequierre and Dr. Jacques Pierre Guequierre. In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his two brothers, Daniel R.C. Guequierre and Dr. Evans C. Guequierre.
After growing up in Wayne, Pennsylvania, and attending the Haverford School, Mercersburg Academy, and Radnor High School, Jacques found he loved mechanical things more than school work. His father was all too happy to sign the paperwork to allow him to enlist in the Marine Corps early following his junior year. He enlisted and served two years, from 1946–48, as an auto mechanic with the Aircraft Engineering Squadron at MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina.
After leaving the Marine Corps, Jacques went on to enjoy a career in aviation that included working for Piasecki Helicopter and the Vertol Helicopter Division of Boeing Vertol as a technical field representative. While working for Boeing, he lived in Paris for three years, enabling him to acquire a good command of the French language, which he enjoyed practicing when given an opportunity.
Following his time at Boeing, Jacques owned his own helicopter charter business in the late ’60s and early ’70s, Main Line Helicopters. He’s fondly remembered by many for giving rides at birthday parties and flying Santa to various shopping center appearances, as well as helping various local law enforcement agencies before they had their own helicopters.
The need for an easier way to move his two helicopters into the hangar sparked Jacques to invent his trademarked “Helicopter Handler” dollies (landing platforms for skid-type helicopters). The business grew over the years as he made many modifications and improvements to the product.
Though Jacques sold the business when he turned 84, it’s still going strong today, with Helicopter Handler dollies being used by various branches of law enforcement, the military, corporations, and individual helicopter owners all over the world.
Jacques’s love of mechanical things, especially helicopters and cars, followed him all his life. He traded a Lincoln for his first airplane, a BT 13, that he had yet to learn to fly. During his checkride in that aircraft, the cotter pin came out of the instructor’s control stick, leaving the instructor waving the stick around in the air saying, “Get this thing on the ground.” Jacques did and passed his checkride.
He owned numerous vehicles over the years, including Indian motorcycles; 10 Oldsmobile Vista Cruisers; some Volkswagen Beetles; various boats, including a Chris Craft; a Bell Jet Ranger; and a Bell 47 helicopter, which he used to fly himself and his wife, Marina, away from their wedding reception.
Jacques’s 15 minutes of fame came in 1953 when he was chosen to be a stunt skier in the Esther Williams movie Easy to Love, which was filmed at Cypress Gardens in Florida, where he was working as a water skiing instructor.
Over the years, Jacques lived in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, and Wilmington and Newark, Delaware. In July 2017, he chose to move to the Maris Grove retirement community in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania. Upon arriving there, he made many new friends and acquaintances. He truly enjoyed this new community of caring friendships like a second family.
Jacques was a Master Mason in good standing for more than 68 years with the University Lodge No. 51 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and a 32nd- degree member of the Scottish Rite. He was also a member of the Nur Shrine in Wilmington, Delaware. An avid aviator, he held dear his nearly 50-year membership with the Keystone and, then, Wilmington hangar of the “Quiet Birdmen.” He was also a member of the Twirly Birds (a club for 20-plus–year helicopter pilots) for over 30 years. Additionally, he was among the founding members of The American Helicopter Museum in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
Jacques leaves behind his wife, Marina Kaiser, of Delray Beach, Florida; their daughter, Leci McCrillis; her husband, Bill, and their son, Jacques, all of Hopkinton, New Hampshire; and an empty bar stool at Feby’s Restaurant on Sunday nights.
The family wishes to express their gratitude to the doctors and nurses at Christiana Hospital, especially the 6C Stroke Unit, for their wonderful care and attention, and the Seasons Hospice staff.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, May 9, 2020, at 11:00 am, Christ Church Christiana Hundred, 505 Buck Rd, Wilmington, Delaware.
Memorial donations may be made to Shriners Hospital for Children, 3551 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19140; The American Helicopter Museum, 1220 American Blvd., West Chester, PA 19380; or a charity of one’s choice.