Friday, January 25, 2008

Mittie E. Parsley Schirmer, 44-W-10

Mittie E. Parsley Schirmer  1921-2008 

Mittie E. (Betty) Schirmer, 86, St. Joseph, MO, died Friday, January, 25, 2008 at Living Community of St. Joseph. 


"I was born in Stanley, Kansas some 70 odd years ago and grew up in a loving family atmosphere."

"When my future husband, Dan, was serving in the Pacific theatre, I joined the Civil Air Patrol. This led to taking flying lessons at the Municipal Airport in Kansas City, Missouri. During this time I learned about the WASP program and immediately applied for training.  Most of my friends thought I was a complete airhead for even contemplating leaving a relatively secure job for the "Wild Blue Yonder," but my mother encouraged me to join if I had the chance.  I was taken into the class of 44-10, which turned out to be the last class of the program.  I was assigned to Randolph Army Air Base in San Antonio."

"After deactivation, Dan and I married. My attendant was Helen Paine, a 44-10 baymate. We had a son, mark, and a daughter, Ann. I got caught up in the business of family living and seeing my children through college, marriage, and ultimately the rearing of their families. We have five grandchildren and a great-grandson."

We lived 3 1/2 blocks from campus.  When Mark started to college, so did Mom. When it came time to declare a major, I chose art for two reasons--because I loved those courses and because Dan said, "At your age you do as you want to." For 16 1/2 years, I exposed art experiences to elementary children and enjoyed it immensely.

Now Dan and I are enjoying retirement. We are active and busy with family and friends. We attend games, parades, dance recitals, graduations, and weddings and we travel to give that added spice to our lives.

"Now our grandchildren are saying, "Cool Grandma, you were a WASP." They want to know all about the training -- what we did, what we flew, how we felt, what our wings are like. They are writing papers in college on women pilots and their place in aviation. They have asked me to be a guest of their various high school classes to tell about our training and the organization itself."

"The application, the acceptance, the training, the graduation, the wings and especially the flying were all great, but a very special moment was when this former WASP stood up by her husband, when the pastor of our church asked the veterans to stand to be honored by the people of the church."


The following is reprinted with permission:

Mrs. Schirmer was born October 24, 1921, in Stanley, KS. She served as a pilot in the Women Airforce Service Pilots during World War II. She married J. Daniel "Dan" Schirmer, January 13, 1945, who survives of the home. She was a school teacher in the St. Joseph School System for 16 years. Mrs. Schirmer was a member of Ashland United Methodist Church. She belonged to the P.E.O. Chapter FL, Missouri State Teachers Association, and Retired Teachers Association of St. Joseph. She was also a member of Gene Field Porcelain Club, Delta Kappa Gamma, and Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). She loved to oil paint, as well as paint china. 

Mrs. Schirmer was preceded in death by her parents, William Harrison and Goldie (Crust) Parsley; brother, Harry Parsley; and sister, Helen Fletcher. Additional Survivors: son, Mark Schirmer and his wife Wendy of Gladstone, MO; daughter, Ann Pfeifer and her husband Dan of Maryville, MO; grandchildren, Angela Stanley and her husband David of The Woodlands, TX, Mindy Gray and her husband Chad of Story City, IA, Danielle and Derek Schirmer also of Gladstone. 

Services 10:00 A.M. Wednesday, Ashland United Methodist Church. Interment 3:00 P.M., Pleasant Valley Cemetery in Stanley, KS. The Family will receive friends 6:00 to 8:00 P.M. Tuesday, Meierhoffer Funeral Home & Crematory. The Family suggests memorial gifts to Hands of Hope Hospice, National Military Heritage Museum, Alzheimer's Association, Northwest Missouri Chapter, or Living Community of St. Joseph.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Aviation pioneer Evelyn Pinkert 'Pinky' Brier

Evelyn Pinckert "Pinky’" Brier, a San Bernardino aviation pioneer who owned Tri-City Airport for more than 40 years, died Sunday at Redlands Community Hospital.

Brier, who was 98, died of pneumonia, according to officials at Montecito Memorial Park, which is handling her funeral.

PHOTO: Evelyn 'Pinky' Brier gets kissed by the mayor in 1938. Pinky flew the first air mail letter from Redlands. (A.K. Smiley Public Library)

Brier was the first American woman licensed as a flight and aerobatics instructor and was invited to join the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots (WASPS) during World War II. She holds the record for the most take-offs and landings at Los Angeles International Airport.

Services will be at 1 p.m. Thursday in the Valley View Chapel, Montecito Memorial Park, 3520 E. Washington St., Colton. Interment will follow in the park.