Monday, June 23, 2008

WASP Lois Boien Durham, 43-W-7

Born September 14, 1921, Lois passed away on Sunday, June 22, 2008.

The following post is "In her own words" from WASP Betty Turner's book, "Out of the Blue and Into History. (p229-230), published in 2001:

My family had been in Omaha for over 140 years.
Because I did not like to go to sleep at the normal time, my father drove me to Fort Crook, Nebraska (now Offutt AFB) and let me watch the midnight mail plane come in and pick up the mail. My nose was against the fence from age one--and I'm still watching the planes (I live in the flight pattern of the long runway).

My mother was a special friend of Lt. Roscoe Turner. After WWI, Mr. Turner returned to visit the Olson family and to introduce his new bride. When I asked permission to fly, my mother called Roscoe in Indianapolis and asked him, "Is there a future in aviation for women?" He gold her, "Of course!" She told me to go ahead and fly!

I was accepted in class 43-7 and was assigned to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. My next assignment was the 3rd Ferrying Group, Romulus, Michigan, and then Greenville, Mississippi.

After deactivation, I returned to Omaha in 1947 to work at Offutt AFB, then transferred to Sioux City as a personnel specialist. I returned to Omaha and worked again at Offutt until November 1951 when I resigned to get married. I met my husband, Bob Durham, through a man who worked in base supply with me. After several months of traveling, we settled in Lincoln, Nebraska. I returned to DOD as operations specialist at Lincoln AFB.

Bob had been in the Army since he was 16 years old, transferred to the Air Corps, gone to OCS (Officer Candidate School), then to flight training and received his wings in '45., We flew together as much as we could--flying parachutists, charters, 99s -- and vacations. Bob used his flying skills in his police work while in Lincoln. I was the lat civilian operations specialist and transferred to the personnel field.

During the 17 years we lived in Lincoln, we raised our six children. Peter, a Marine who served in Vietnam, is a member of the Los Angeles Police Department; David retired from the Air Force several years ago--he spent his time in command posts around Europe and USA. Philip was the stage manager for the Omaha Symphony for 13 years and rat ART TRAN, moving musical instruments and art objects. Martha, the only girl and a mother of three, has worked computers, cars (mechanic), and veterinarian supplies; Douglas works for Marriott, and Robert is an auto mechanic. There are 13 grandchildren as of today.

When Lincoln AFB closed, I worked for the Civil Service Commission in Omaha, then the Veterans Administration in Lincoln and the Internal Revenue District Office in Omaha. I retired early because of illness of my husband and learned to take care of a continuous application of renal dialysis patient. I lost him in 1982.

For the last five years, I have been actively speaking to schools, clubs, senior centers, churches, universities and WWII reunions. The highlight of my speaking engagements was going to London to talk to the Concord Dining Society of the RAF Club. The Society flew me to Heathrow and back to New York in the Concord.

I also shared the podium with Eric Brown, one of the most famous of English pilots. He appears on PBS- -and sat in my living room three weeks before the Concord event --on TV.

I have served as Regional Director of Region 2 for two terms and was Chairman of the '98 Omaha Reunion of the WASP WWII. I have attended my 55th Doane College Reunion, been recognized for Distinguished Service, had scholarships given in my name, but still cherish being a WASP more than anything.

and, reprinted from the Omaha World Herald

Lois Boien Durham

DURHAM-Lois Boien, age 86, of Ralston, NE. Member of the Women's Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). Preceded in death by husband Robert. Survived by sister, Barbara Erickson, Edwardsville, IL; sons, Peter (Nancy) of Woodland Hills, CA, David (Joni) of Centralia, IL, Phillip (Carol), Douglas (Melody) and Robert, all of Omaha; daughter, Martha (Royal) Bush of Omaha; grandchildren; great -grandchildren; nieces; nephews; numerous other relatives and friends. Memorial Service to be held July 8, 7pm, Messiah Lutheran Church, Ralston, NE. Memorials suggested to the Lois Durham Scholarship for Women Pilots at the University of Nebraska at Omaha Aviation Institute.

Published in the Omaha World-Herald from 6/24/2008 - 7/8/2008.