Plane crash takes lives of two alumni

Frank Protiva

Frank Protiva, 47, and Thomas Moody, 58, died in a private airplane crash on Jan. 23. Both men were NAU graduates and strongly connected to the university’s civil and environmental engineering programs.

“Both individuals were substantial contributors to our close-knit engineering community here in northern Arizona,” said Debra Larson, associate dean of the College of Engineering, Forestry and Natural Sciences.

Moody worked two years as a research associate at NAU before starting his own business specializing in stream restoration and natural resource planning. He also worked on environmental issues with Grand Canyon Trust.

Tom Moody
Tom Moody

Protiva was a principal owner of Shephard-Wesnitzer Inc., a northern Arizona civil engineering firm. Besides being a large contributor to NAU’s engineering department, the company devotes volunteer time to mentor NAU students.

“Frank and Tom were special people whose presence would light up a room,” said Paul Trotta, a professor of civil and environmental engineering. “It’s a reminder to do what both Frank and Tom would say, ‘Live life and be happy.'”

A celebration of Moody’s life will be from 4 to 6 p.m. today at the Elks Lodge at 2101 N. San Francisco St. Participants are welcome to bring instruments and be included in a music jam session.

Condolences for Moody can be sent to

A celebration of Protiva’s life will be an open-house potluck from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Jan. 30, at Wiseman Aviation Hanger located at Flagstaff Pulliam Airport.

In lieu of flowers, Protiva’s family requests donations to the Utah Back Country Pilots, Sky Park Airport, 1887 S. Redwood Road #16, Woodscross, UT 84087.

Condolences for Protiva can be sent to