Minn. pilot, father of 6, killed in crash near Texas airport

A 52-year-old Minnesota pilot and father of 6 was killed in a small plane crash Wednesday night in Texas.

Bill Graves, an amateur pilot for many years, was traveling in his new twin engine Cessna from his home in Willmar. He crashed 8 miles away from its approach at Denton Municipal Airport, about 40 miles northwest of Dallas, and was killed on impact. Graves, Secretary of the Board of the Domino's Franchisee Association, started his career as a Domino's delivery guy in 1981 in Willmar, Minn. Four years later, he opened his first franchise and he later operated 94 stores in 9 states.

"When we heard the news, it was a gut punch. Bill was the kind of guy who brought life and energy into every room that he entered," neighbor Keith Kerstettler said.

For the past year, Graves and his wife Susan have resided in Flower Mound and have 6 children, and he calls himself a part-time bus driver shuttling those 6 kids to all of their activities, whose ages range from 5 to 20 years old, according to the Domino's Franchisee Association Website.

Several people in the area heard a low-flying aircraft and ensuing crash around 9:30 p.m.. The exact cause of the crash has not yet been determined, but Graves was the lone occupant.

"He was involved in a lot of different things in the community but he was quiet about it. He wasn't out front. He wasn't flamboyant," Willmar Mayor Marv Calvin said. Friends and neighbors say when he wasn't working, he was with his family.

The Federal Aviation Administration and several law enforcement agencies are investigating.

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