Friday, December 9, 2011

WASP Dorothy Ebersbach -- a legacy of caring

World War II aviator and nurse Dorothy Ebersbach gives CWRU $2 million for flight nurse program

Published: Thursday, December 08, 2011, 6:26 AM     Updated: Thursday, December 08, 2011, 9:07 AM
Dorothy Ebersbach

Dorothy Ebersbach served in the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) during World War II.
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- An aviator who served in the Women Airforce Service Pilots during World War II, then spent her career as a nurse, has donated $2 million to a Case Western Reserve University program that encompasses both of her passions -- flight nursing.

The Dorothy Ebersbach Academic Center for Flight Nursing will be established at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, where Ebersbach earned a nursing degree in 1954. She died last month at 96.
The center will expand the Advanced Practice Flight Nurse Program's mission of training graduate-level nursing students to provide on-site care during emergencies and transport to medical facilities.

The program for nurse practitioners is the only one of its kind based at a U.S. nursing school, officials said. Fourteen students have graduated and eight are in the program. About 250 flight nurses have been trained through its summer camp.

The university had planned to transport Ebersbach by air from her Florida home to Cleveland to announce her gift, said Mary Kerr, dean of the nursing school.

Ebersbach, a longtime donor to the nursing school, enjoyed discussing her role in aviation and the school's flight nursing program, Kerr said.
"Separate elements of her life have merged to continue her legacy of flight and nursing," said Christopher Manacci, clinical director of the program. "This will help perpetuate this program for decades."

Ebersbach grew up in Pomeroy, Ohio, and received a bachelor's degree in education from Ohio University in 1936, according to her obituary and an oral history she gave in July, 2010.

She worked for her father's construction company in Tampa, Fla., a job that required her to learn how to fly an airplane. She earned a commercial pilot's license at the University of Tampa. After the United States entered World War II, she applied to and was selected to be a member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASP.

According to the National Museum of the United States Air Force, more than 25,000 women applied for pilot training under the WASP program. Of these, 1,830 were accepted, 1,074 graduated and 900 were in the program when it was disbanded in December 1944 as men began returning from the war.
Ebersbach served in Texas and Arizona, doing test flights and towing targets for gunnery practice. She wanted to continue flying after the WASP program ended, but men flooded the market for pilots. So, she chose another career.

After receiving her nursing degree, she worked in public health nursing in Hillsborough County, Fla., until her retirement in 1975. She never married and lived in the house her family moved into in 1935.
WASPs were considered civilians rather than military personnel. But they were granted veteran status in 1977.

In a ceremony at the U.S. Capitol in March, 2010, the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor awarded by Congress to a civilian, was given to all WASPs. Ebersbach received hers at a ceremony in Tampa a month later.

v/r republished from the Plain Dealer Blog

Sunday, November 27, 2011

WASP Jean Francis McCart, 44-W-4 Nov. 25, 2011

Jean McCart took her last flight on November 25, 2011, surrounded by her family.

Jean was born in Oakland, California on March 20, 1921.

During World War II, a select group of young women pilots became pioneers, heroes, and role models...They were the Women Airforce Service Pilots, WASP, the first women in history trained to fly American military aircraft. Jean was a proud member of that elite group. She recently remarked that “being a WASP impacted my life in many ways…(it) gave me a lot of confidence in myself and provided me with wonderful, lifelong friends”.

On November 23, 1977 a Congressional Bill gave the WASP veteran status and in March, 2010, Jean and her fellow WASP were honored with the Congressional Gold Medal. This honor was very meaningful to Jean and to her family.

After her retirement from the military, she became a flight instructor, focusing on flight aerobatics. Her special maneuver was a double snaproll, and she took great delight in showing her students what she was capable of doing!

Jean was an accomplished business woman and owned the Beverly-Cross Personnel Service, a multiple office temporary personnel service in Southern California which she sold in 1989.

Jean loved to fly fish and lived part time in Montana. During the summer months, you could find her fishing in nearby rivers. Her favorite spot was the Three Dollar Bridge on the Madison and beyond.

Jean was much loved and will be truly missed by her sisters Joan Flatley of Channel Islands, Heidi Helbig of Mammoth Lakes, Elizabeth Rice Grossman of Thousand Oaks, and nephew Michael Niemeyer of Seal Beach.

At the time of her death, Jean resided in Hollywood Beach in Ventura County.

Jean had a wonderful, productive life, enjoyed many friends, and impacted the lives of countless people. A great lady. Fly with the angels Jean. You will be missed by all who had the privilege of knowing you.

Services are pending.

v/r posted  from Jean's family

Thursday, November 17, 2011

WASP Elizabeth 'Betty' Haas Pfister, 43-W-5 Nov. 17, 2011

 Elizabeth Haas Pfister passed away peacefully at her home in Aspen, Colorado on November 17, 2011.  b July 23, 1921 - d November 17, 2011.  Two dates separated by a dash.  For WASP Betty Pfister, that dash represents an extraordinary life of trailblazing adventure, sacrifice, flying, record breaking, friendships, marriage, family, patriotism and service.

Elizabeth "Betty" Haas  was born on July 23, 1921 in Great Neck, New York, to Bob and Merle Haas, the middle child, with an older brother and younger sister.  She started school in Scarsdale, NY.  Later, she attended  Holmquist Boarding School in Pennsylvania-- and then spent her last 2 years of high school at George School.  Upon completion of high school,  Betty was accepted at Bennington College in Vermont.  She learned to fly her freshman year, building up her flying hours each year.  During her senior year, after receiving a telegram from Jacqueline Cochran inviting her to apply to join the WASP training program, she convinced the administration at Bennington to allow her to graduate early with a degree in Marine Biology. 

As soon as she graduated, Betty paid her way to Avenger Field to become a member of class 43-4.  However, while Betty was in primary training, her brother was killed tragically in a catapult failure while flying torpedo bombers off a carrier.  Betty went home to be with her family and, when she returned to training, had to join class 43-5 in order to get in all the flying and classes she needed to graduate.

After graduation, Betty was part of the Ferry Command, and spent two years flying missions from factories to bases or to points of embarkation and test flying new aircraft.  She flew many different types of aircraft from the single engine PT's, to the fastest pursuits, to co-piloting the four engine B-17.

After the WASP were deactivated, Betty worked as a flight instructor and as a co-pilot for several 'non scheduled' airlines, flying DC-3 type aircraft.   She flew as a stewardess with Pan-American Airways from 1948 to 1952 so that she could travel the world, flying out of New York to Europe and eventually San Francisco to the Orient.   In 1954, she married Arthur Pfister.  The couple moved to Aspen, Colorado, where they began a family and raised their three daughters.

In 1963, Betty received her commercial rotorcraft rating and, just three years later, she planned and supervised the construction of the Aspen Valley Hospital Heliport--first heliport in Colorado.  In 1968, she founded the Pitkin County Air Rescue Group.    Betty  remained president or the organization until she retired in 1991.  This volunteer group of pilots continues to this day to initiate searches for downed aircraft or other emergencies in the Aspen area.

Betty was responsible for encouraging the FAA to provide and staff the control tower at the Aspen Airport and served as an FAA Accident Prevention Specialist for several years.  After she earned her balloon rating, she organized the Snowmass Hot Air Balloon Races from 1976 to 1983.  In between, she found time to fly over the Alps twice in a hydrogen balloon.

In 1973 and 1978, Betty was a member of the US Helicopter Team, competing in the world championships.  In 1981, Betty founded and became the first chapter chairman of the Aspen Chapter of the Ninety-Nines, International Women Pilots. In 1984, she was inducted into the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame.  From 1985 to 1987, she was president of the Whirly-Girls, International Women Helicopter Pilots.

Betty served as an international judge during the 6th World Helicopter Championships in France. In 1992, she was appointed as Chief US Judge at the 7th World Helicopter Championship in England. In 1992, she received the Katharine Wright Memorial Award, presented by the National Aeronautic Association.  In 1994, she received the "Elder Statesman of Aviation Award," and the Livingston Award for Exceptional Contribution to the Recognition and Advancement of Women in Helicopter Aviation. She also received the Gold Medal Rotorcraft Award from the Federation Aeronautique Internationale in 1994.

On March 10, 2010, surrounded by her girls,  Betty, along with her WASP sisters, attended a special ceremony at the Capitol, where the WASP were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for their trailblazing, patriotic and inspirational service in World War II. 

In September of 2000, mom and I were privileged to interview Betty and meet Art at their beautiful mountaintop home in Aspen, Colorado.  Betty was a gracious lady in every way, with an easy laugh and a great passion for sharing her love of aviation with young people.  Over the years, she sponsored  aviation scholarships, sending young pilots to Embry Riddle, NASA's Space Camp,  and eventually found local instructors to teach youngsters to fly.  Her reason?  "I've had a wonderful life --My tunnel vision my whole life has been aviation. heart and soul have been in it for years.     I'm trying to pass on some of the great love of aviation and the pleasure that I've received to some of the younger people..."

When asked what advice she would give to the next generation,  Betty answered thoughtfully, "My main belief, I believe it right down to my toes, that if you want to do anything in life badly enough, you can do it.   We all set our own priorities as we go thru life-- maybe your priority is to be an artist -- or maybe a musician -- any field you can think of-- and I think, if you really want it badly enough you can do it."  She did, indeed. 

Betty will be missed by so many, but her legacy lives on, in the lives of countess young pilots and pilots to be, rescued skiers and their families and her community of Aspen, where she made such a difference.  God bless her family and all of those whose lives she touched.  

Blue skies, Betty.

V/r posted by Nancy Parrish

Betty's P-39 Aircobra -- donated to the Smithsonian
    (from the Smithsonian website: Elizabeth Haas then bought the airplane and registered it with the FAA as NX57591 on December 4, 1946. The airplane wore her red and white racing colors and the nickname "Galloping Gertie" painted on the fuselage side. She took it back to the National Air Races in 1948 but failed to qualify. Haas lent her P-39 to the National Air Museum in 1950, but a lack of space forced the Museum to store it temporarily at Orchard Place Airport (now O'Hare International Airport) near Chicago, Illinois. In 1956, Ms. Haas made the donation permanent. After NASM lent the Airacobra to the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Museum at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the EAA repainted it in U. S. Army Air Force markings but kept the nickname "Galloping Gertie." EAA returned the aircraft to the National Air and Space Museum in 1984. Since 1999, the P-39 has been on loan to the Niagra Aerospace Museum, Niagra Falls, New York.)

Aspen Hall of Fame

Aspen Times Article 2010

WASP Sylvia Dahmes Clayton, 43-W-5 Nov. 12, 2011

When asked, other than your family, what is the one thing are you most proud of,   Sylvia Clayton answered, 
"Being a WASP and winning my wings."  

On November 12, 2011, WASP Sylvia Dahmes Clayton took her final flight,  flying higher than she had ever flown before where, "earthy limitations will hinder her no more."

Sylvia was born January 20, 1920 in Redwood Falls, Minnesota,  to Freida Otto and Robert Oliver Dahmes.     Shortly before her birth,  the family purchased a 160 acre farm.  Sylvia and her older brother and younger sister grew up learning how to feed the chickens, pick apples,  weed the garden,  and play in the grain as the threshers moved through the wheat fields.

Sylvia began elementary school in a one room country school house, where grades one thru eight were taught at the same time.  The outhouse was in the back, and school lunch was at their desks, with whatever they brought in their lunch pails.   To get to school during the frigid Minnesota winters, her dad would hitch up two horses behind a 'cutter' sled,  and her mom would heat bricks and wrap them up for the bottom of the sled to keep the children's feet from freezing. 

In 1937, when Sylvia was a junior in high school, her father died, leaving her mother to fulfill his promise that all three of their children would finish college.  Sylvia graduated as high school valedictorian and began her first year of college at the NW Institute of Medical Technology.  After her freshman year,  during the summer, her brother was invited to join the CPT (Civilian Pilot Training) program at his college. He convinced his sister she needed to learn to fly as the one girl allowed to sign up for the program.  After transferring her credits to be closer to home, she applied for the program, passed the physical,  and began learning to fly.   Her first solo was on a little grass field with cattle running on it. Her  instructor told her,  "If you can't miss the cattle, you have no business being a pilot."

After earning her BA from Western Union College in Ames, Iowa in 1942, Sylvia began working as a medical technician at Harper Hospital in Detroit, Michigan.  She continued to build up her flying hours and, eventually, joined the Civil Air Patrol. It was then she learned about the WASP program.

She applied,  was accepted into the class of 43-5,  and ordered to report to Avenger Field, Texas on March 23 at her own expense.    After successfully completing the training program, Sylvia graduated, earning her silver WASP Wings.  She  was then assigned to the 3rd Ferrying Group based at Romulus, Michigan as a ferry pilot.  She was soon selected and was temporarily assigned to attend pursuit school.  After graduating, she returned to Romulus.  

As a ferry pilot,  Sylvia  picked up planes in Montreal and flew them to Fort Dix, New Jersey, where they were ‘packaged’ and sent  overseas. She also flew new planes to and from modification facilities, delivering them to training bases or ports of embarkation.  During her service as a WASP, Sylvia flew the PT-19, BT-13, AT-6, UC-78, L-2 & 5,  P-39, P-40, P-47, P-51, P-63 and C-47.

After the WASP were disbanded on 20 December 1944,  Sylvia first returned to being a medical technician.   However, she soon decided to  change her career back to aviation.    She was hired by a firm in San Bernardino, went through training to  learn how to tear down a jet engine and rebuild it. Her main job was to  block-test jet engines.  It was there, in 1946, that she met and married Harry H. Clayton,  an engineer at the same firm.  Soon after, they began their family. 

Sylvia and her family lived in several different states.  After her husband's  very successful career in the aviation industry, they ended  up in Tucson, Arizona where  he started his own business.  Harry passed away in 2000.

In July of 2011, the personnel of the community where Sylvia lived in Tucson, gave her an extraordinary gift.  They arranged for her to fly again.  After the plane  left the ground, the pilot turned the controls over to Sylvia and allowed her to  fly it for almost an hour.  As reported on the Tucson news that evening, her memorable comment was, "Why is this plane so slow!" 


On 3 Nov, 2001,  my mom and I were privileged to interview Sylvia in her home in Tucson.   It was clear that she still missed her husband, who had passed away just a year before, very much,   but when she began to speak about her wonderful family, growing up on the farm,  and flying, she just sparkled, and her kindness and sweet spirit filled the room.

When the interview was winding up, my mom asked her if there was anything she might want to say to those in future generations-- to inspire them--or to her grandchildren or great grandchildren. Sylvia said, " Believe in yourself!    Try to do  what you think you want to do-- and you can do it-- you've got it in you to do it."

Finally, I asked her one last question:
"Do you have a favorite word?"
Sylvia's answer:   "WASP."

v/r written and posted by nancy parrish

From the official obituary :
"The Minnesota farm girl heritage that made her a good WASP imbued her values into to her surviving children, Robert and Sharon and her granddaughter, Emiley. A Tucson resident for more than 50 years, Sylvia was active for most of that time in the Casas Adobes Congregational Church. She made many friends there and at the Fountains, as well. She was active in PEO and American Business Women's Association for many years. As she grew older, life became more difficult. Sylvia was ready to join Harry, her husband and we are saddened that she is gone. We are happy to have been a part of and shared in her remarkable life"

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to Planned Parenthood, The Alzheimer's Foundation or Southern Arizona Association for the Visually Impaired in her name. 

* From "Celestial Flight" by WASP Elizabeth McKethan Magid

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

WASP Grace Clark Fender, 43-W-4

Grace Clark Fender, 91, of Amarillo,  an extraordinary woman, trailblazer for female military aviators, has slipped the bonds of Earth. She died Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011.

Grace Clark Fender was born in Wichita Falls, Texas on Aug. 13, 1920, shortly after her twin sister, Ruth. 

In her sophomore year of college, she was accepted into the Civilian Pilot Training Program and received her private pilot’s license in 1940. She graduated from Texas Women’s University with a business degree in 1942. Grace continued to fly while working as a dispatcher at the Wichita Falls Municipal Airport.

When she heard about Jacqueline Cochran’s Women’s Army Air Corps pilot program, she applied and became one of only 1,074, out of 25,000 applicants, to complete the program, becoming one of the first groups, class of 43-W-4, of women to fly military aircraft.  They were called W.A.S.P., Women Air Force Service Pilots. After being assigned to the Ferry Command, she was based in Romulus, Mich., and flew trainers, fighters and bombers to and from factories and air bases on the east coast of the U.S. and Canada.

In 2010, Grace and the other W. A. S. P. were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for their service during World War II.  (It is the highest civilian honor that Congress can award)

After World War II, she worked for American Airlines as a ticket agent until she married naval aviator, Charles Fender. Their marriage of almost 50 years produced two daughters, which they raised in Sweeny, where Grace was a much requested substitute teacher. She and Charles spent their final years in Bartlesville, Okla., with Phillips Petroleum Company.

Grace moved to Amarillo in 2004.

She is survived by her twin sister, Ruth Pryor of Dallas, and sister, Martha Barron of Albuquerque; her daughters, Laura Dunson and husband Steve of Canyon and Barbara Chamberlain and husband John of Dexter, Mich.; three grandchildren, Ben Dunson and wife Martha, great grandchildren Liam and Elliot of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; Abbey Williams and husband Tim and great granddaughter Skylar Grace of Amarillo, and Ross Chamberlain of Dexter, Michigan. She is also survived by a step-grandson, Carl Chamberlain wife Helen and children Elaine, Will, and Henry.

She was deeply loved and will be greatly missed.

Leave online condolences at
Private services will be held at a later date. Arrangements are by Boxwell Brothers Funeral Directors, 2800 Paramount Blvd.

The previous was REPOSTED from Amarillo Globe-News, Oct. 10, 2011

Grace Fender, January 29, 2002

*From Wings Across America.  We were privileged to interview Grace at her home in Bartlesville, Ok. on January 29, 2002.  Just days before, there had been a huge ice storm, blocking roads and making travel uncertain.  We slowly inched along, eventually pulling up in front of the house, just able to make it up the driveway.  There, standing at the window, waving and smiling "hello"  was Grace. Of all the interviews and all the driveways, this is absolutely the most memorable!

Grace just sparkled from the inside out.  What a delightful lady she was, and how honored we were to spend time with her.  We will never forget her smile and her kindness.  God bless her family and all of us whose lives she so gently touched. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

WASP Marjorie Ellfelt Rees, 44-W-1

Marjorie Ellfeldt Rees, Prairie Village, Kan., died September 27, 2011.
She was born August 1, 1921, in Kansas City, Mo., and spent most of her life in this area, residing in Johnson County for the last 50 years. Marjorie was the only child of Ruth E. (Dunlap) and Ralph J. Ellfeldt. She graduated from Southwest High School and the University of Missouri at Kansas City, where she also received her MA and Ph.D. in Education Psychology. 
After earning her undergraduate degree, Marjorie worked briefly as a social working before being accepted for pilot training in the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) in 1943. 
She served for 18 months as a test pilot, ferry pilot, and staff pilot until the WASP program was disbanded at the end of 1944. Considered civilians at the time, it was not until 1977 that the WASP were given retroactive veteran status. In 2010, the WASP were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal at a ceremony at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., which Marjorie attended. 
Marjorie married another Air Force pilot, 1st Lt. William F. Rees. Following his discharge, the couple settled in the Kansas City area, except for several years in Colorado where Marjorie studied at the University of Denver.  
Marjorie was school psychologist at the Barstow School during the sixties and staff psychologist at the Florence Crittenden Home for several years. During this period she was also self- employed as a private learning consultant. For many years she was a community volunteer and activist, serving as an office holding member of the Johnson County Commission on Aging, the Foundation on Aging, the Silver-haired Legislature and others too numerous to mention. 
She founded and developed the Senior Leadership Program, the College Re- entry Women Scholarship Awards (an AAuw project), the OWL Women of Worth awards (WOW), and the Senior Advocates network, a coalition of senior organizations. She also initiated and was a major sponsor of "The Music of Our Lives," a musical production starring talented senior performers. 
She originated and funded the first traditional ballroom dancing program for children in inner city schools, followed by a program in a private school for learning disabled students. Marjorie also funded professional dancing instruction for a non-profit musical theater group of special needs young adults. 
Among many awards, she received the Leadership in Aging Award from the Johnson County Commission on Aging, the Outstanding Leadership Award from the Senior Leadership Council, a Humanitarian Award from the Volunteer Center of Johnson County, the Hall of Fame Award for Community Service from Shepard's Center of Shawnee Mission, the WOW (Women of Worth) award from OWL, and the Excellence in Community Service Award from the National Society of DAR. 
The Kansas City Star as a SHEroe also selected Marjorie during Women's History Month in 2001. Sponsored by the Northeast Kansas Chapter of 99's, she was inducted into the Forest of Friendship that honors those who have made significant contributions to aviation. 
In her youth, Marjorie studied classical ballet, tap and jazz, and she returned to dancing in her later years, performing for 12 years with "The Classics," a musical variety show. Most recently she took up ballroom dancing, performing with her instructors in her eighties. At the age of 85, she entered her first competition, competing in the Heart of America Ballroom Championship Competitions. She competed three years, performing a variety of Latin and swing numbers and always achieving 1st place in each entry. 
Marjorie's husband predeceased her in 2001. She leaves three children, daughters, Lynn Blaine and her husband Pete Enich, and Laurie Rees and her husband Bill Pratt, son, Dr. Will Rees and his wife Tanya, and five grandchildren, Stephanie Blaine, Taylor Rees, Alex Rees, Katie Rees, Molly Pratt, and great grandchild, William Blaine Hadel. 
A Celebration of Life Service will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 9, at the Leawood South Country Club, 127th St. and Overbrook. Instead of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to AAUW, KC Branch Re-entry awards. Mail to Stefanie G. Hatfield, Treasurer, 10811 McGee, Kansas City, MO 64114-5017.

Published in Kansas City Star on October 5, 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011

WASP Dorothy Krasovec Eby, 44-1 Sept. 20, 2011

Posted on Facebook September 20, 2011
“My grandmother, my Hero.   WASP Dorothy A. Krasovec Eby passed in her sleep last night.  May she rest in peace. She is already missed.” 
    Kim Eby Bruch

Dorothy Krasovec Eby was born on March 8, 1920 in Sandpoint, Idaho, the youngest of six children.  Her father died when Dorothy was only a year old, leaving her mother as the sole provider.  The family relocated to northern Michigan when Dorothy was five.

At age eight, Dorothy saw her first  bi-plane flying over the Michigan Upper Peninsula.  It was then that she made up her mind that someday, she would learn to fly.  When she was 12, the family moved to Rock Springs, Wyoming, where she graduated from high school and began working as a secretary.

Dorothy read about the Civilian Pilot Training program in the local newspaper.  The program had originally been limited to college students, but, in 1940, the program dropped that requirement, allowing her to qualify.  At just under 21 years old, Dorothy convinced her mother to sign the permission and in July of 1941, she earned her private pilot’s rating.

Two years later, Dorothy read a newspaper article about the WASP  and immediately applied.  She was interviewed at Cheyenne, Wyoming and, after taking an Army physical and written tests, was told to report to Avenger Field in July of 1942 as a member of class 44-W-1.  Dorothy and her classmates were the first class to be fitted by Neiman Marcus for the brand new official Santiago Blue WASP dress uniform.  On February 11, 1944, Dorothy, along with 48 other young women pilots, proudly ‘passed in review’, graduated,  and were awarded their silver WASP wings.

After graduation, she was stationed at Merced Army Air Field, Merced, California.  On the second day at Merced, she met her future husband, Lieutenant Douglas Eby, as she flew as observer on his instrument check ride ‘under the hood.’  They dated until Lt. Eby was transferred to B-17’s and B-29s. Her next assignment was to Instrument School at Bryan Army Air Base in Texas, where she received her Instrument Certificate. 

After successfully completing the course, Dorothy was sent to Orlando, Florida to the AAF School of Applied Tactics,  a temporary assignment in preparation for the WASP to become militarized.  After completing the course, she returned to Merced and spent the rest of her time as a WASP as an instrument instructor.  She also flew as a utility pilot, flying dignitaries to San Francisco or Oakland when the weather was bad enough to require IFR rules.

After deactivation, Dorothy remained at Merced, working as a private secretary.  She and now Captain Eby were married on July 11, 1945.  Following his return to Guam, he  was part of the B-29 contingent that flew over the battleship Missouri when General MacArthur accepted the Japanese surrender.

After her husband returned to the states, they began their life together in the San Francisco Bay area, and her husband went to work for Pan American World Airways, where he remained for 33 years. He retired in 1978.

After  raising two sons: David, born in 1950, and Donald, born in 1957, Dorothy returned to flying, became qualified,  and  earned her instructor’s rating.  She and her husband enjoyed their Cessna Skylane and were able to travel around the country. They also stayed active in real estate. 

On June 17, 2009, Dorothy Eby’s name was read into the Congressional Record, volume 155, Number 91, by Representative Ros-Le\htinen, author of the House of Representatives’ legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the Women Airforce Service Pilots of WWII.  On March 10, 2010, Dorothy Eby and  her WASP sisters were presented the highest civilian award in America: The Congressional Gold Medal. 

Her legacy lives on in the memories of her sons, her granddaughters,  and in others whose lives she touched.

God bless her family,  and may those memories inspire generations to come to fly just a little higher.

v/r posted by Nancy Parrish  Nov. 21, 2011
Facts from WASP Betty Turner's "Out of the Blue and Into History"

A second posting on facebook from another granddaughter:
"She was an amazing women, growing up with all the stories of the WASP and fond memories of all her pictures she would show us as kids during her training days in Sweetwater. She loved her reunion trips around the world with the WASP and I know she admired all of service women she worked with. She will be very missed and she is very loved. Rest in peace grandma!"
   Kelley Eby Devon

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

WASP Mary Lou Colbert Neale, 43-W-1 Sept. 12, 2011


Mary Lou Colbert Neale was born in Juneau, Alaska to Rear Admiral Leo Otis and Florentine Odou Colbert on October 6, 1914.  Her father was Director of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey (now integrated with NOAA) and was on the Board of Directors for the National Geographic Magazine.  She traveled extensively as a child attending schools in various locales including Manila in the Philippines.  Mary Lou graduated from Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School in Washington D.C. and entered Wellesley College in 1931, graduating with a degree in English Composition in 1935.  She worked as a newspaper writer, and a cataloguer for the Library of Congress.  When the nation prepared for WWII she met with Eleanor Roosevelt to ask  her help in allowing women in the newly formed Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP).  In this program she completed her Primary and Secondary Pilot Training.

Rear Admiral Colbert pins his daughter's wings
on while Jacqueline Cochran looks on.
  While working with aeronautic charts in the Department of Commerce, Mary Lou met famous female pilots Jackie Cochran and Amelia Earhart.  Through her acquaintance with the military in Washington D.C., she learned of the formation of the Women Air Force Service Pilots [WASP] Program.  She was the first candidate Jackie Cochran signed up for the program and was a member of the first class, 43-W-1.  Mary Lou was stationed in Dallas, Texas, Long Beach and Palm Springs California.  She was assigned to the Ferry Command, flying P-38s, P-51s, P-47s, P-63s, P-39s, B-25s and various training aircraft between the west and east coast military bases.  Mary Lou was later Commander of the WASP Unit at the Palm Springs Army Air Force Base.  She received a commission as Captain in the USAF Reserve after the WASP organization was deactivated.           

After WWII, Mary Lou married her flight instructor in the CPT Program, Navy Captain Raphael A. (Ray) Neale and had four children.  She was a member of the San Fernando Valley 99s Women Pilots Organization, on the Board of Directors and wrote for the P-47, P-38 and P-51 Veterans Organizations, was a charter member of the Santa Clarita Chapter of the American Association of University Women, and volunteered as the Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital’s Medical Librarian for 30 years. Mary Lou conceived and organized a WASP Display in the P-38 Museum Hanger of the March Reserve Air Base Museum in California.  Fellow WASP, Iris Critchell, partnered with major photographic donations to the display.  The display is in recognition of the twenty-eight WASPS who ferried P-38 aircraft during World War II.               
Mary Lou Colbert Neale was honored in 2007 with a granite plaque in the International Forest of Friendship, an arboretum and memorial forest beside Lake Warnock in Atchison Kansas.  It is a memorial to the men and women involved in aviation and space exploration, with the names of over 1,200 aviation notables including Amelia Earhart, Charles Lindbergh, Chuck Yeager, the Wright Brothers and Sally Ride.

On March 10, 2010 she, and all fellow WASP, received the United States Congressional Gold Medal for her service as a WASP during W.W.II.  It is one of the highest honors the Nation can bestow.  

Reposted with permission from the family of Mary Lou Neale

Monday, September 5, 2011

WASP Lois Nash, 43-8 April 24, 2011

WASP Lois Nash, 43-W-8, took her final flight on Easter Sunday morning, April 24, 2011, just twelve days after she  celebrated her 90th birthday.

Born and raised in Ferndale, Michigan, Lois fell in love with flying at age five after riding with her family in a Ford Tri Motor.  It wasn't until years later, when she signed up for the CPT program at Michigan State Teachers College (now Eastern Michigan University), that she was given an opportunity to learn how to fly.

Attending college and working as a teacher, Lois continued to acquire flying hours. In 1943, she finished school in June and in July,  she  was accepted into the Army Air Forces experimental flight training program for women and headed to Texas.  Lois and 94 other young women pilots paid their way to Avenger Field, Sweetwater, Texas to become WASP class 43-8.  Less than half that number eventually graduated.

After Lois  completed the training and earned her silver WASP wings, she was sent to Hondo, Texas (C-45 navigational flying to train cadet navigators);  Dodge City AAB, Kansas (B-26 transition training); Pueblo, Colorado (B-26 tow target missions)  and finally to Walker AAB, Victoria Kansas (engineering, ferrying, copilot B-17's).

During the eighteen months Lois flew for the Army Air Forces, her husband, Albert E. Nash, was serving in North Africa and Italy.  As a WASP, Lois flew fifteen different types of aircraft  for her country, but the B-26 Martin Marauder remained her all time favorite.  When the WASP were disbanded on Dec. 20, 1944, Lois returned home and, eventually,  she and Albert began raising their 2 sons.

WASP Lois Nash plus Congressional Gold Medal
in front of the podium, Emancipation Hall, US Capitol
March 10, 2010
Lois spent the last few years sharing her WASP experiences with local groups and being honored for her service.  On March 10, 2010, she was one of apx. 175 WASP who attended a ceremony in Washington, DC, to award the WASP the Congressional Gold Medal, highest honor that Congress can award a civilian.  It was the largest event ever held inside the Capitol building.
Lois had been living in S. Carolina since the retirement of her late husband Albert E. Nash. She is survived by her two sons and their wives, Bill & Susan Nash of Ft Wayne Indiana, and Thomas & Donna Nash of Roswell, GA.

respectfully posted and photos added by Nancy Parrish
From son, Thomas Nash:  
"Easter morning, my beloved mother Lois Nash, WASP class of 43-8 took her final flight. Her favorite plane was the B-26. She drove her own car and lived in her own home until two weeks ago. She had been busy speaking to various groups about the WASP. She did not suffer long, but my brother Bill and I are missing her badly. I have many photos in a FB tribute album which I started over a year ago on my page . Her 90th birthday was April 11th."
Other information on Lois:

Lois Nash photos on her son, Thomas's page
Interview--July, 2009
Video Interview WSPA --March, 2010

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Patrick G. Roberts Aug. 17, 2011

Wednesday August 17, 2011
Patrick Roberts
Patrick G. Roberts
Patrick G. Roberts, age 60, of Faribault, died suddenly on Tuesday, Aug. 16, 2011, at his home.
Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. on Monday in the Divine Mercy Catholic Church, 139 Mercy Dr., Faribault. Visitation will be held from 2-5 p.m. on Sunday at the Parker Kohl Funeral Home & Crematory in Faribault and for one hour prior to the services at the church on Monday. The Rosary will be recited at 4 p.m. on Sunday. Interment will be at the Annunciation Cemetery in Hazelwood, Minn.

Patrick George Roberts, the son of Arthur J. Roberts Sr. and Elizabeth (Wall) Strohfus, was born on April 8, 1951, in Faribault. He graduated from Bethlehem Academy and St. Thomas University. Patrick was a traveler, who used his expertise as a bartender and waiter to enlarge his circle of friends and his understandings of life. After college he spent the 1970s in Boston, Mass., and learned the value of dreams and hope. The 1980s found Pat in Madison, Wis., where he hated the Packers. He tried construction and helped build many homes. He was afraid of heights—his knees would shake—but he would still walk a 2x6 wall and set trusses. The 1990s found him in Calif. running a club. He came back to Faribault to care for his beloved uncle, George Wall, during his last year of life. 

Pat became a promoter for his mother, a World War II WASP, and all things veteran-related. He wrote and published a book, and was a fixture at air shows around the country that he loved. He was also a member of the Sons of American Legion.

He is sorely missed by those he left: his mother, Elizabeth (Wall) Strohfus and her sister, Cecilia (Wall) Bell; his brothers, Arthur John Roberts Jr., Michael T. Roberts, Kevin D. Roberts and his wife, Mary Carol Roberts, and last, again, but never least, his little sister, Julianne Reed; he was enriched by nieces and nephews, April E., Kathryn, Matthew, Joe, Arthur John III, Rachel, Marie, Brigid, Ron Jr., Jeremiah, and Zachariah; special friends, Becky Sammon and Dave Chipich; and many cousins and friends. He was preceded in death by his father.

For information and guestbook please visit

Respectfully reposted from the Fairbault Daily News
Submitted by FDN Camey Stadler on Wed, 08/17/2011 - 17:29
Received via email from Kimberly Johnson 8/23/2011

Monday, August 8, 2011

WASP Madeline Sullivan Conley O'Donnell, 44-2 Aug. 4, 2011

Madeline Sullivan Conley O'Donnell A longtime resident of Menlo Park, Maddy passed away peacefully on August 4th at AlmaVia of San Francisco a few months after her 90th birthday.

Born in Brooklyn, NY, in 1921, and raised in Bellerose, Long Island, she is survived by her younger brother, Robert Sullivan, and three children, Patrick, Keelin and John (her daughter Keavy left us in 1992).   A loving step-mother to Kevin, Kerry and Mark as well, she was proud grandmother to Bill, Kimberly, Megan, Christopher, Katie, Joe and Mack, and 5 great grandchildren.

After spending one year at Chevy Chase College in Chevy Chase, MD, Maddy enlisted in the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP, Class 44-2) under Jacqueline Cochran and spent two years doing something she absolutely loved - flying.   *Mostly bombers (B-26 Marauder).

She met her first husband, John Conley II, while on the chow line in Colorado Springs in 1944; they were married nine months later in St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. She gave up her first love - flying - and they eventually settled in Larchmont, NY to raise their four children.

A few years after John's passing in 1969, she married John Gerard (Jerry) O'Donnell and expanded her living horizons to Hong Kong and Beirut, where they spent four years before moving to Menlo Park. 
Her passion for tennis, fast driving (in her Miata) and story-telling were renowned.

A Funeral service will be held at St. Dominic's Church in San Francisco on Thursday, August 11 at 11:30AM; donations to Vitas Innovative Hospice Care, 1291 East Hillsdale Blvd. Suite 225, Foster City, CA 94404


Additional facts below respectfully added by Nancy Parrish

* Madeline was stationed at Dodge City, Kansas, where she would have gone thru B-26 transition training.  She was then transferred to Gowen AAB in Boise, Idaho and, eventually, Peterson AAB in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  At each base, WASP flew  B-26's as part of the Army Air Forces training command.  Missions included tow target,  simulated attack and instrument instruction.

Photo added by Wings Across America

Thursday, July 14, 2011

WASP Ann Griffin Gleszer, 44-9 July 7, 2011

"When I was 10 years old, Charles Lindbergh flew solo across the Atlantic. He was my hero and model. Later on, Amelia Earhart showed me women could fly, too. When I was at the University of Connecticut, I saved all the money I could get for flying lessons. By the time the war broke out, I had graduated from the university and had my private flying license."
Ann Gleszer from WASP Betty Turner's "Out of the Blue and Into History"


 Ann Gleszer

June 21, 1916 - July 07, 2011 

Ann Griffin Gleszer was born to Frank and Catherine Golick of Columbia, Connecticut on  June 21, 1916.    She graduated from the University of Connecticut with a Master’s Degree in Education.  While attending college, she also took flying lessons and got her private pilot’s license, eventually becoming an air traffic controller at Rentschler Field in East Hartford.

When America entered World War II and the call went out for women pilots, Ann applied to the Army Air Forces women's training program at Avenger field, Texas, and was accepted into class 440-9.  After successfully completing seven months of flight training,  she graduated, received her WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) wings, and was stationed at Robbins Army Air Field in Macon, Georgia as an engineering test pilot in BT-13's and AT-6's.  Serving her country as a WASP influenced Ann for the rest of her life.

After the WASP were deactivated, Ann became a flight instructor and kept a plane at Simsbury airport. Later, as a test pilot for aeronautical engineer, businessman and inventor Charles Kaman in Bloomfield, she was featured flying a Kaman Aircraft K-125 helicopter in the November 15, 1948 issue of “Life” magazine.

Ann married Thomas Griffin (now deceased) and lived in Switzerland with their two sons, during which time she developed life-long friendships and became fluent in French. She began teaching French at Simsbury High School in the early 1960s and arranged many winter ski trips for students to Okemo Mountain.  She also taught French and Spanish at Newtown High School until her retirement in 1983.

Her husband of 42 years, Kenneth Gleszer, was a radio communication officer on Liberty ships in WWII, as well as a former non-military pilot and flight instructor.

In March, 2010, together with all her WASP peers, Ann received the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor the Congress of the United States can bestow on a civilian, honoring their service as WASP, the first women in history to fly American military aircraft.  during WWII.   She also received the Connecticut Veteran’s Wartime Service Medal from the Dept. of Veterans’ Affairs.

Ann was a member of the Methodist Church of Bethel and a life-long member of Eastern Star.

Pre-deceased by her parents, sisters Mary and Sophie, and brother, Bill, Ann is survived by her husband, Kenneth of Danbury, son Douglas Griffin and spouse Jill of Monroe; son Glenn Griffin and spouse Sandra, of Silver City, New Mexico, grandson Douglas II and spouse Stephanie of Bethel and many fond teachers, students, military, neighbors and friends in the U.S., Switzerland and Italy.

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to Masonicare Hospice or the Salvation Army.

Respectfully edited and re-posted, with additional photo  by Wings Across America
* with an additional quote  from WASP Betty Turner's  "Out of the Blue and Into History"

Saturday, June 18, 2011

WASP Elizabeth "Betty" Whitlow Smith, 43-W-2 June 16, 2011

WASP Elizabeth Whitlow Smith,  patriot, pilot, mother and  true southern lady of grace and humility transitioned from this life to the next on June 16, 2011.   She will be missed by all those whose lives she touched.

"Betty" was born in the lush green landscape of Pine Bluff, Arkansas on December 29, 1920 to Joseph and Mary Whitlow.  From as early as she could remember, airplanes fascinated her.  She felt drawn to the sense of freedom and space she felt when she looked up.  

As a young girl, Betty covered her bedroom walls with aviation  pictures, including a magazine ad featuring  an airplane silhouette along with a bottle of perfume.

During her sophomore year at the University of Tulsa, the 19-year-old psychology major, was given the opportunity to fly in the Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP).  Betty became one of two women surrounded by 18 men in the government sponsored program, eventually earning her pilot's license.

Once she soloed, Betty's  first passenger was her mother, Mary.    Soon, Betty became 1/4 owner of a Piper Cub and continued flying while working at Douglas Aircraft in Tulsa, inspecting equipment on modified B-24's.  Once she had accumulated the required 200 hours, she was accepted into the WASP training program and  entered training at Houston Municipal Airport (now Houston Hobby) as a member of the second class.  

After graduation, she was stationed with the 5th Ferrying Group, ATC at Love Field, Dallas, Texas.  During her time as a ferry pilot, Betty flew PTs, BTs and AT6s. Later, after graduating from pursuit school, she ferried the P-51, P-40 and P-47.  She also completed Officers Training School in Orlando, Florida.

Following her service as a WASP, Betty was married for 30 years to Ben Rummerfield, a geophysicist.  His career with a seismic exploration company took the couple to Caracas, Venezuela  (where their first daughter was born), Mexico City (where their first son was born) and finally, back to Tulsa  (where their second daughter and son were born).     Betty spent her time raising their 4 children and, eventually, became involved in volunteer work with the Junior Board of the Children's Home, YMCA, and as a Water Safety, First Aid and Sailing Instructor for the American Red Cross.

After 30 years of marriage, the couple parted and Betty met Dan Smith, whom she married more than 3 years later.  

Betty was a cheerful volunteer, both at her church and with the Assistance League of Tulsa.

Betty and Dan with their flag flying.  Wings Across America Interview.
Betty is survived by her husband Dan S. Smith, children Ann Sartain, Mike Rummerfield, Ben Rummerfield, Jr. and Susan Rummerfield, her grand children Sarah Campbell, Esther Sartain and Ben Sartain,  great- granddaughter, Chloe Campbell, stepsons Doug and Kevin Smith and Betty's brother Joe Whitlow.

Memorial services for Betty will be held at  2:00 p.m., Tuesday, June 21, at the Country Club of Woodland Hills, 6333 S. 91st E. Ave.  Tulsa, Oklahoma.

On January 27, 2002, Betty was kind enough to allow our Wings Across America camera into her home.  Throughout her interview, there was a quiet grace and kindness that was captured, along with Betty's thoughts on being a WASP, for generations to come.  May the following words touch your heart just as they did ours.

On the WASP:  "We were a group. We were not known as individual flyers like those who had gone before -- Amelia Earhart or Jacqueline Cochran,  but as a group we really opened things up in the military for women  and its gratifying to know that they appreciate that.  They do express that and I think that that's very nice.  I hope that it will encourage young people, if they do get to know about us, that they'll see that they have a chance to do what they have a dream to do... what they dream of."
On getting thru the tough times: "Having friends and a belief system...knowing that its gonna be OK. There is something greater than us watching over us."
On encouraging future generations: "If they have a dream, something that they feel any passion about, that they just think that would be the thing that would just make everything worthwhile for them, they should hang on to that dream and not be swayed away from it by anyone.  Because there are so many people out there that say 'Oh, you can't do that, that's not possible, it's not been done' ... Don't listen.  Don't listen to that. Just follow your dream."
Taken from Wings Across America's interview with Betty Whitlow Smith, 2002
Respectfully posted by Nancy Parrish
June 18, 2011

Reposted from
"Betty was a devoted Mother who raised her children with a sense of adventure and curiosity. Little did her children know until adulthood that she ferried all single engine Airforce fighter aircraft in the American inventory during WW II with a spiritual commitment to the air ways while skipping across the windy skies, the setting sun, and billowing clouds where arching rainbows are caught on wing tips.
Family and friends wish you to fly high and that your wings “touch the face of God”.
We Love You"

Article on 2 Tulsa WASP

Friday, June 10, 2011

WASP Emma Coulter Ware, 43-3 May 29, 2011

Emma Coulter Ware

Emma Coulter Ware, 96, died May 29, 2011 in her St. Louis home of 63 years. She was preceded in death by her husband, James Boyd Ware and is survived by her six children and four grandchildren.

She was born in Greensburg, PA on May 17, 1915 as the only child of Richard Coulter and Matilda Bowman Coulter. *"Both her father and grandfather were generals when generals rode horses instead of jeeps."

She first attended Miss Voegle's School in Greensburg. She graduated from Miss Porter's School in Connecticut and completed her education in New York City at Barnard College. While there she became an avid Gilbert and Sullivan devotee. Her interests were zoology and art history.

World War II was imminent and she joined the civil air patrol after earning her pilot's license. She then graduated in the third class of Woman Air Service Pilots (WASP) in 1943. She served as a ferry pilot of war planes, flew as part of the Tow Target Squadron, and helped test drone airplanes. Emma met her husband while at Biggs Air Force Base in Texas. They married on the last day the WASPs were in service, December 19, 1944. They settled in St. Louis, her husband's hometown.

Emma Coulter and Widget at Biggs Field, 1944
As the result of working with the Frontier Nursing Service in Hayden, Kentucky, she was interested in nursing and natural childbirth and had her third child at home. She gave birth to triplets with the fourth pregnancy. She had lifelong interests in horses, the arts, enviornmental issues, endangered species and travel. Over the years in St. Louis, she raised her family with a menagerie of rescued animals. Besides horses, cats and dogs, she nurtured birds, bats, flying squirrels, wolves, a bear and an albino dingo. She traveled the world for adventure, history, and art as well as in support of her causes to save arctic seals, whales and wolves.

Emma spent time in Buffalo, Wyoming and Aspen, Colorado where she would take her children skiing, hiking, riding and to the music festival. She supported environmental causes such as the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES) and she provided housing for teachers, students and opera singers who attended the music festival.
Her volunteer efforts and generous support extended to many associations including The Humane Society, the United States Pony Club, The Wolf Sanctuary in Eureka, The Sheldon Concert Hall and The Opera Theater of St. Louis. She was a member of the Ethical Society.

Emma is survived by her daughters, Nina and Judy Ware of St. Louis, her sons' Richard and James Ware of Maine, daughters Anne Ware of Aspen, Colorado and Wendy Ware-Gleason of Portland, Oregon. Her grandchildren are Judy's children Justin and Margaret Smith and Wendy's children, Christopher and Emily Gleason.


Respectfully reposted by Nancy Parrishwith the addition of quotes, links and photo.
*p. 546 "Sisters in the Sky" by Adela Riek Scharr
Official notification and photos
Tribute page from Andy Hailey

Monday, June 6, 2011

WASP Justine Fletcher Woods, 44-W-7 May 26, 2011

 Justine Fletcher Woods, better known as “Fletchie”, passed away in her sleep at home in Honolulu, Hawaii on May 26.   She spent her life with her best friend and husband of 62 years, Ransom (Bud) B. Woods, Jr., traveling around the world together courtesy of the United States Air Force.

Justine was a Congressional Gold Medal recipient for her service as a Woman Airforce Service Pilot (WASP) during WWII. Of the 25,000 women who applied for this newly developed women's service program, she was one of only 1,074 who graduated.  She flew for the Army Air Force during the last year of the war flying twin-engine UC-78s and AT-6s military planes as a test pilot and training cadets.  The program was disbanded by the end of 1944 and not until 1977 were the women finally given military recognition. In March of 2010 the WASP were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal as the first women in history to fly American military aircraft.

With the disbanding of the W.A.S.P., Justine joined the American Red Cross to drive a 2-ton truck, the Clubmobile, through war-torn Europe taking coffee and donuts to the boys in the fields. This began a long association as a Red Cross volunteer.

Throughout her life she continued to volunteer through the Red Cross as a swimming and a sailing instructor. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Justine was always the tomboy and sport enthusiast, playing golf, tennis, sailing and swimming. She took much pride in her role as a water safety instructor and used this avenue to teach swimming for nearly 50 years with the Red Cross. Justine was also a Red Cross sailing instructor with a group of women called the “Wet Hens” teaching sailing to other military wives while stationed in Hawaii.

Justine received her B.A. from Wells College in Ithaca, New York in 1939 and M.A in education from University of Southern California. She also earned her private and commercial pilots licenses.

Justine married “Bud” right after World War II ended and traveled 30 years with the US Air Force. They moved every three years to new assignments throughout the US and the world. In 1975, upon “Bud's” retirement from the Air Force, they enjoyed life between homes on Waikiki Beach in Hawaii, Sun City West, AZ, and Aspen, Colorado, where they had great pleasure snow skiing, golfing, and playing bridge with wonderful friends.

Justine is survived by her son, Ransom (Randy) B. Woods, III and wife, Jeanne; daughter, Lynn Severin and husband, Brian; six grandchildren: Robin Woods Strecker and husband, Peter; Greg F. Woods and wife, Connie; Louis, Baird, and Tyson Severin; Melissa Severin Bruhn and husband, Ray: and, five great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be forthcoming at the Snowmass Chapel in Snowmass Village, Colorado at a time to be determined.

Reposted from the Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Links and photo respectfully added by Nancy Parrish