Tuesday, July 28, 2009

WASP Marcia Ellen Courtney Bellassai, 43-3 July 21, 2009

Marcia Ellen Courtney Bellassai passed away on Tuesday, July 21, 2009, having led a full and rich life. She was a hard working mother of five children who will miss her as long as the wind blows and the rain falls.

Born in Hartford, Wis., the second of three sisters, she attended the St. Kilian School and was pleased to have had one of her father’s prize chickens named after her. She graduated from UW Madison in 1941, and began flying with the CPTP, even occasionally barnstorming in aircraft of the period.

At the beginning of World War II she worked for two years for Piper Aircraft Corp., and then was admitted into the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), earning her WASP wings and graduating in class 43-W-3.

She flew a wide variety of missions, including towing targets (for live AAC practice), ferrying aircraft to airfields around the country, and instructing.

Only a few weeks ago on July 2, 2009, a bill passed by Congress was signed by the president awarding her and all the WASP a congressional gold medal.

After the war, she worked for the Joint Attache Office at the American Legation in Bucharest, Romania, where she met her future husband, the late Maj. Anthony Bellassai. They lived at a variety of duty stations in Europe, California and Fort Huachuca, Ariz., eventually settling in Maryland for many years.

She earned a master of library science degree from the University of Maryland, and did a number of library and literacy studies (some still available online), before finally retiring with her husband to Sierra Vista. Marcia loved history, ancient cultures, genealogy, languages, and gardening, and her passion for reading — especially mysteries and novels of the Regency period — was unmatched.

She is survived by five children, Elissa Strati of Baltimore, Md., Gina Bellassai of Kea’au, Hawaii, Cara Welsh of Chattanooga, Tenn., Anthony C. Bellassai of Slippery Rock, Pa., and Marc C. Bellassai of Sierra Vista; as well as four grandchildren, Brian Bellassai, Joseph Lynch, Graham Louis Bellassai and Kara Cherelaine Welsh. Donations to the Friends of the Sierra Vista Public Library in Marcia’s name will give support to a new generation of readers.

Final Resting:
Southern Arizona Veterans' Memorial Cemetery
1550 Buffalo Soldier Trail
Sierra Vista, AZ 85635

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