Saturday, March 10, 2012

WASP Mary Amanda Bowles Nelson, 43-W-4 Feb. 10, 2012

Mary B. Nelson, 93 -- ESCONDIDO, California

Mary Amanda Bowles Nelson passed away February 10, 2012 in Escondido, Calif.

Mary had a long adventurous life and enjoyed living every minute of it. 

She was born in San Francisco, Calif., in 1918 to Philip E. Bowles Jr. and Jesse Jackson Bowles. Mary's father died shortly after her birth in 1918 and she was raised by her mother and fraternal grandparents, Philip E. and Mary A. Bowles of Oakland, Calif. 

Mary was never afraid to go after what she wanted and at the age of 17, in spite of her mother's forbidding it, took flying lessons and obtained her Pilots license.

She loved flying and spending time with her grandfather's horses.

 At the age of 25, Mary was among the first women to join the Women Airforce Service Pilots to help her country during WWII. She was part of the elite group of women who had the opportunity to give instruction to young Airmen. 

After the war, Mary managed the Palm Springs Airport for several years. She also worked as a charter pilot and sold retired fighter planes refurbished for civilian use. 

During that time, she had the opportunity to purchase an Arabian horse that was brought to the U.S. from war torn Europe. She was enchanted with the Arabians and spent many years breeding and showing the beautiful horses. She loved riding and watching the powerful and elegant Arabians and still owned several at the time of her death. 

In her later years, Mary worked as a Real Estate Agent. 

Mary's proudest moment was in receiving the Congressional Gold Medal in 2010 for her service as a WASP. 

Mary was an independent, self reliant and unconventional woman of her time. She was very clever and had a witty sense of humor. 

She will be deeply missed by all her friends.

Respectfully reposted from the North County Times, March 4, 2012
Sign the Guest Book online

photo added by Wings Across America


  1. Just read about this fine woman in reference to her selling a plane to architect Albert Frey, who designed a home for her (1945, unbuilt). What a fascinating life she had!

  2. I remember My beach lobotomy in Baltimore Shoreland