INSPIRATION HONOREES

Ross Perot Jr.

Dr. Randy Sherman
(posthumously)

Mr. Perot made history by completing the first helicopter flight around the world in less than 30 days in 1982. He went on to serve as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force. As chair of the Air Force Memorial Foundation, he led the 14-year effort to build the U.S.  Air Force Memorial in Washington, D.C.  In 1988, Mr. Perot developed Fort Worth Alliance Airport, the country’s first industrial airport, which now anchors AllianceTexas, a 27,000-acre master-planned, mixed-use community in North Texas. 

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Mr. Perot currently serves on the boards of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and the Hoover Institution. He also is board member emeritus for both Vanderbilt University and the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Today, Mr. Perot serves as Chairman of The Perot Group, which manages various Perot family interests that include real estate, oil and gas, and financial investments. Mr. Perot is also Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Hillwood, a multinational real estate development company based in Dallas, Texas.   

Mr. Perot and the Perot family have a longstanding history of supporting our nation’s first responders, veterans, and military personnel. They have consistently demonstrated this commitment by offering their fleet of aircraft to facilitate critical humanitarian aid missions and to provide transportation support for the families of wounded and fallen soldiers and first responders. Most recently, Mr. Perot donated a Bell 407 GX helicopter to the City of Dallas to support law enforcement and first responder missions.  

On May 27, 1951, Randy Sherman was born a pilot and on July 18, 2023, Randy Sherman died a pilot. Between those two dates, he led a life that touched hearts, helped the wounded, and inspired people around the world.

Randy’s father, Leon Sherman, fled to America from Uman, Ukraine, where he met Pearl Lichtenfeld. Together they built a life in St. Louis, Missouri and had three sons, Andy, Farrel, and their youngest, Randolph “Randy” Sherman. Cancer took Leon only months after Randy was born, but Pearl continued to raise her children with the strength and determination which he would come to radiate in his own life.

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As a teenager, athletics became very important to Randy. While he lettered across a variety of teams at Clayton High School, football quickly grew to become his focus. That passion continued into his time at the University of Rochester where he played as one of the country’s last barefooted kickers. Though numerous injuries ended his dream of military aviation and space flight, the doctors who treated him inspired the rest of his life.

In 1973 Randy returned to his home state to attend medical school at the University of Missouri. His training continued at SUNY Syracuse and UCSF, all while taking private flying lessons and playing the piano at local clubs, but he found his true calling in the plastic surgery program at the University of Southern California in 1983.

USC proved to be a fitting home, where Randy could be both an innovating surgeon and unparalleled educator. Over his 25 years with the school, he rose to be Vice Chair of the Department of Surgery, Associate Medical Director for Surgical Services, and hold the Audrey Skirball Kenis Endowed Chair. While working nonstop at the hospital, in 1992 he married Sandi Wackerman, an intelligent and caring USC graduate and real estate attorney. Their son, Max, was born in 1994 and continued the family tradition by becoming a Trojan.

In 2008, Randy moved across town to Cedars Sinai where he served as Vice Chairman of the Department of Surgery, Director of the Division of Plastic Surgery, and held the General William and Willa Dean Lyon Family Chair. At Cedars, he was supported by the love and drive of his partner, Martha De Laurentiis, until she was also taken too soon, in December 2021. His goal at both hospitals was to uniquely harness existing techniques and imagine new ways for the field of plastic surgery to deal with serious wound care. 

It was important to Randy that his patients weren’t limited to only those who had the resources to seek him out. As a board member of and surgeon with Smile Train and Operation Smile–surgical charities that care for children with congenital and acquired deformities–Dr. Sherman provided pro bono medical services in disadvantaged countries around the world. Randy also deeply cared for and served on the board of Angel Flight West.

Throughout his life, Randy pursued his personal passion for aviation with the same zeal he pursued surgical excellence. As a boy, he fell in love with the sky reading Saint-Exupéry’s “The Little Prince.” To him, flying was the perfect outlet for his ever-burning desire to improve himself; there was always more to master. Over the course of his life, he became a commercial pilot, flight instructor, medical examiner, float plane pilot, world war 2 plane pilot, formation pilot, glider pilot, helicopter pilot, and much more. His final flight saw him returning home from visiting family and friends, his favorite use of his plane. He was 72.

ENDEAVOR HONOREES

Dennis M. Phelan
Angel Flight West


Up until 20 years ago, Dennis Phelan was at the pinnacle of his career, serving as town administrator in a small, East Coast community. In Dennis’ own words, “Life was good!” 

Then, as Dennis continues, “the big three happened.” While grieving the
unexpected loss of his mother, Dennis spent time in the hospital for a still not fully understood medical issue. And, after 15 years of dedicated service, Dennis was told he was “let go” from his job.

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Having earned his pilot’s license in 1986, Dennis begrudgingly moved to Georgia to build his flight hours in the right seat of a Beechcraft 1900, flying freight six nights a week. Then, he moved west to be Second in Command on an air ambulance. 

In 2009, looking for ways to fill his downtime, Dennis volunteered to fly for Angel Flight West. Now, after 15 years of charitable flying, he reflects on the many passengers that have left a permanent mark on his memory. 

Dennis says, “It was through the incredible administration and staff at AFW that I met Nancy and Marilyn, passengers who had the same cancers and who chose to be treated at Cedars Sinai Medical Center . . . Don who would come from Las Vegas to the Mayo Clinic for his cancer treatments . . .   Nine-year old Mason with kidney disease . . . Trina and her four-year old daughter, who regularly came to Phoenix from Northern California to be treated for breast cancer… and Bradley, AFW Mission Assistant and aspiring Command Pilot. The list of unforgettable passengers goes on, and I was hooked.”

Dennis has donated hundreds of flights to help, including COVID relief and Flights of Joy. Speaking of the passengers above, Dennis remarks, “These are just a few of the truly remarkable people whom I have had the privilege to meet, befriend, and admire, and from whom I learned about life, genuine strength, and the power of hope.  And especially, how very fortunate I was to have been “let go.”

John Rochelle
PALS SkyHope


John Rochelle has served as Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors at PALS SkyHope since its inception and is recognized as a superlative model of leadership. John is a retired custom building contractor, specializing in large commercial and residential custom residential building projects.

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John has substantial experience in the governance of charitable organizations and has performed public outreach and fundraising. Among his many accomplishments, John has served on the boards of volunteer pilot organizations, numerous builders associations, and artistic and religious foundations.

In addition to serving on their boards, John estimates that he has flown close to 400 flights and approximately 5000 hours for PALS SkyHope, AirLifeLine, Volunteer Pilots Association, Angel Flight America, and Angel Flight Northeast. Regarding his leadership and flying efforts on behalf of PALS, John states, “Family aside, this is the best thing I’ve done in my life.”

When speaking of John, the team at PALS SkyHope says, “A position on a board service is one of the toughest volunteer roles, and John has taken on this duty with dedication, grace and passion. More than his amazing compassion for others and hours of volunteer piloting, PALS is grateful for his active leadership as an appreciated steward of PALS SkyHope. John’s willingness to go above and beyond to help others is a huge testament to his character. He will continue to be known throughout the community for his immeasurable thoughtfulness and generosity. Thank you, John, for all that you have done for others. Your kindness has truly touched
numerous lives in a meaningful way.” 

John lives in Pennsylvania with his wife Diane and has a daughter, a son, three grandsons, and one granddaughter.

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