Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Edith Smith Beal, 44-W-7 | April 24, 2013

Edith was born on July 15, 1916, in Kirkland, N.Y., the daughter of W. Carlton and Edith F. Munger Smith. She graduated from Buffalo State Teacher's College and studied Art at Pratt Institute.

After teaching for three years and learning to fly an airplane,   In 1944 Edith applied for and was accepted into a flying training program to teach female pilots to fly military aircraft.  She then paid her way to the flying training base at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas.  She was one of ninety-eight young women pilots who became  members of class 44-W-7.

Edith was one of only fifty-nine trainees who successfully completed the seven months of military flight training. On September 8, 1944, Edith graduated and received her silver WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) wings.  After graduation, she was assigned to Eagle Pass Army Air Base, Eagle Pass, Texas.  While at Eagle Pass, Edith flew AT-6’s for Advanced Gunnery School, towing targets to train cadets in gunnery training.

During her service at Eagle Pass, Edith met Flight Instructor Donald Ivan Beal, from South Portland, Maine. The couple began dating and, after the WASP were disbanded, they were married on Feb. 10, 1945. Together they raised their four children and operated Sandy Cove Cottages for over twenty years,  before retiring to Florida to enjoy their ‘golden years’. During those years, Edith took up her artist's brush again, painting in water-colors.

Edith  passed away on April 24, 2013 at her home after a short illness.
She was a member of the First Congregational UCC Church of Bridgton, Maine.   She was predeceased by her parents,  her husband of fifty-three years,  a sister (Frances Adams),  and a brother (Charles Munger Smith).  She is survived by her four children:   Kathy Bartke and husband Hal;  Carol Riley;   Jon Beal and wife Hope;  Nat Beal and companion,  Jane;  thirteen grandchildren;  and eleven great-grandchildren.

A memorial service to honor  Edith’s  life was held at First Congregational Church in Bridgton, Maine on Monday, May 13, at 5 p.m.

Donations in Edith’s memory may be made to the Donald I. Beal Memorial Fund of Bridgton Scholarship Foundation.

v/r re-posted by Nancy Parrish  from official obit  (WASP content added)