Friday, January 25, 2013

Frances Caroline Gilbert Johannessen, 44-W-4, Jan. 7, 2013

Frances Caroline (Gilbert) Johannessen 44-W-4

Fran, born Oct. 28, 1920 in San Antonio TX, took her last flight Jan. 7, 2013 in Novato CA.

While attending college on a music scholarship, she had the opportunity to take flying lessons. Her love of flying enabled her to serve as a WASP, during which she met the love of her life, Norm (John Norman Johannessen), at Merced (CA) AAF. Norm had opted for pilot training after serving 50 missions as a nose gunner/bombardier in B-17s out of North Africa.

After the war they married and settled in Huntington NY. Fran (or Tex, as she was known to many of her friends there) was a wonderful mother to her 3 children. She played the violin in the Huntington Symphony Orchestra along with Norm on the trombone. They joined a bridge club, attended many functions at the Huntington Fire Dept. where Norm volunteered, and took up golf, which became their favorite pastime.

Fran was a Cub Scout den mother, worked for the Huntington School District, took up oil painting, and volunteered driving for Meals on Wheels.

Following Norm’s death, Fran moved to CA to be near her sons Jerry (Chris) in Novato CA and Bob (Carol) in El Sobrante CA. Daughter Jean Skerlong (Joel) lives in Mukilteo WA. Fran also leaves behind five grandsons, Erik, Sean, Michael, Jason and Carl, and one great granddaughter, Claire.

Her family will truly miss her kind smile, her always positive attitude and her exceedingly humble spirit. When the WASP were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in 2010, she said she did it just because she wanted to fly!

written by Jerry Johannessen

* From the first time she saw a P-38, she wanted to fly.  She earned her pilot's license from the Civil Air Patrol and, when she had enough hours, applied and was accepted for training as a member of class 44-W-4.  After completing the training and earning her silver WASP wings, Frances was stationed at Merced Army Air Base, a basic training base, in Merced, California.

(*respectfully added by Nancy Parrish Jan. 22, 2013)

1 comment:

  1. Our condolences from the P-38 National Association. Blue skies forever.