MOUNT VERNON — “You could write a book about Marla, she was an outstanding lady,” said Terry Divelbiss, president of the Knox County Airport Authority board. He was talking about Marla Elliott, 57, manager of the airport since 1994, who died unexpectedly Sunday evening.
“When it came to airports and aviation in Ohio she was a real advocate for small airports,” Divelbiss said. “She took our airport from having problems to a nice level and was looking forward to additional expansion.
“She was a positive asset for the airport and community and will be extremely difficult to replace.”
Knox County Commissioner Allen Stockberger said he was surprised when he was notified of Elliott’s death. “I didn’t even realize she was ill.”
Stockberger praised her tenure at the airport, noting that she had guided the airport through “tumultuous times” and that the airport had expanded and improved under her leadership.
“She did a lot for public relations for the airport and community,” Stockberger said. “She took her job seriously. She believed first impressions were important. When dignitaries would come in she did her best to roll out the red carpet; she made everyone feel welcome.”
Jim Richardson, an employee at the airport, said Elliott was “a big asset to the airport. If not for her a lot (of improvements) wouldn’t have gotten as far as they did. “She enjoyed working here. She liked people and got along with just about everybody.”
Terry Warner of Homer, who has several airplanes at the airport and was working with Elliott on plans for some upcoming activities at the airport, commented, “Marla was the spark plug of the airport. Knox County enjoys one of the best, if not the best, county airports in the state, strictly because of Marla Elliott.”
Corporate jets, he noted, would come to the Knox County airport instead of Port Columbus because of the customer service.
“She will be really, really missed,” Warner said. “All of Mount Vernon lost an advocate for the entire area.”