Thursday, March 15, 2018

Florence Shutsy Reynolds, 44-W-5 | March 15, 2018

"My favorite word?  Oh, honor. That to me is more than a word.  

That’s a way of life.  I mean, I’d die for honor.  

That sounds melodramatic maybe, but, that’s how I feel."

WASP Shutsy Reynolds

Pioneering woman pilot, silversmith, lapidarist, silk screener, airbrush artist and humanitarian Florence Shutsy Reynolds took her last flight on March 15, 2018, her journey complete, her mission accomplished.  

She gave the very best of herself and her talents to lift other people by sharing her message of honor, patriotism, friendship, kindness, generosity, and compassion.  The world may be a little less bright today, but her legacy lives on through all of us who loved her.  We will never, ever forget her.

Florence Genevieve Shutsy was born ninety-five years ago to John and Anna Shutsy in Connellsville, Pennsylvania. She was the youngest of four children (brothers A.J. and Irvin and sister, Eleanor). Eventually, the young family began raising poultry, and young Florence was given her first job: taking care of thousands of young chicks.  

From her earliest memories, Shutsy dreamed of flying. Perhaps it was watching the mail plane pick up the mail by flying low over 2 poles to 'hook' the mail.  Once she saw that first airplane, she began making models (the kind you cut out with a razor blade).  Her collection grew to hundreds.

She loved to tell the story of her dad asking the kids what their dreams were, as they sat around the dinner table.  When he told her she was still a little too young, she replied, "I'm gonna learn how to fly!"  Laughter rang out.  Years later, she still smiled when she teased them, because she did what she said, and none of them could remember anything they said. 

She saved up her pennies, bought Roscoe Turner's famous book on Aerobatics and studied it front to back.  She didn't understand it all, but she was learning, always learning, about flying.

She graduated High School in 1940 and began saving for college.  On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.  Like all of America, the small town of Connellsville was deeply affected, as young men signed up to do their part.  
"There was this surge of a patriotism…I mean I grew up learning….by the time I was 5 years old I learned how to salute. We all did.  We put the gold star out for my uncle that was killed in world war I…and we had the old uniform. We read the old letters.  I grew up on patriotism."
She immediately took a job in Pittsburgh and started business school.  Factories were desperate for workers, and her skills at computing payroll eventually landed her the job of head of the payroll department. She was only 19.   

She saw an ad in the paper for the last class of non-college students for the government-run CPT (Civilian Pilot Training) program. "You had to be 18, so when I filled out the application and the medical doctor was filling it out, he said, you realize that you have to be 18 for this, and I said, Yes sir, I do."  Technically, she didn't actually lie, but she corrected the record as soon as she turned 18.

After completing ground school, Shutsy took the civilian pilot written test and scored in the top two.  The top five students had been promised a scholarship for flying lessons, but she was told, "There's a war on and you're a girl."   She began a letter-writing campaign and, eventually, was awarded the scholarship.
"By the time I got it, I was all by myself in this group.  I remember getting into this J-3 cub-- first time I’ve ever crawled into an airplane.  I thought it was gonna shake itself apart. I loved every minute of it!  My first flight was my first lesson.  I still have the logbook where he checked off my attitude, my coordination, my eagerness...I go thru it every now and then to see just how eager I was.  Eagerness was always a high mark."
After her solo, her sister, Eleanor, saved money to help pay for Shutsy's flying time. Every Sunday, her dad would go up with her.  Once she built up enough hours,  she applied for the Canadian Air Force and the Royal Air Force.  She was too young.  It was then that she learned about the women's training program in America.

Still too young to apply for the WASP, she began writing Jacqueline Cochran a letter every week, and every week, a letter would come in reply: "You're too young."  When she found out the WACS had lowered their age limit, she made sure Miss Cochran knew and, eventually, she received a telegram ordering her to report to Harrisburg for a physical. As she later recalled, "I was in 7th heaven!"

After the interview, physical and tests, she was accepted into class 44-W-5, paying her own way to travel to Sweetwater, Texas in December of 1943.  On June 27, 1944, Shutsy and 71 classmates completed seven months of Army Air Force flight training and graduated, earning their silver WASP wings. After graduation, Shutsy's orders sent her to Merced, California to the Basic Flying Training school, where she flight tested BT-13's and AT-6's.
"If airplanes underwent maintenance, especially overhauls, engine changes, or any major changes, they would have to be test flown before the male cadets could fly them.  That was my job as a WASP." 
After the WASP were disbanded on Dec. 20, 1944, Shutsy became part of the Army Air Communication Service, the Air Rescue Service, the Weather Station and Army Technical Group out of the Anchorage and Alaska district.  She served as an instructor in Link Trainers. While in Alaska, she met her future husband, Lyle A. Reynolds.

On July 7, 1949, she joined the USAF Reserves as a 2nd Lieutenant.  Her first assignment was Langley Field, Virginia.  She was promoted to First Lieutenant and assigned to headquarters Air Reserve Center in Denver.  In November 1952, she married Lyle and they lived in the Panama Canal Zone for the next 16 years.  While in the Canal Zone, she was assigned to the USAF Reserves, Caribbean Air Command and was promoted to Captain in October 1956.  She resigned her commission in October of 1960.

During her time in Panama, Shutsy began to blossom as an artist and silversmith.  Together, the young couple began to enjoy lapidary.  By the time they left Panama, they had completed a specially commissioned coral and bloodstone heart for a fifteen foot cross for the Episcopal Church of Panama. 

Lyle chose early retirement and the couple moved back to Connellsville following a serious illness and the death of her father.  They began a jewelry workshop as a hobby and eventually, turned it into a jewelry shop.  Following the death of her husband in 1988, Shutsy became more involved in the National WASP WWII Organization and volunteered to take charge of the WASP WWII Stores.  

Shutsy spent the next 20+ years in her shop in Connellsville creating and reproducing beautiful silver wings and wing jewelry to help share the history of the WASP.   Her 3' x 12' airbrushed banners were each created especially for WASP and visitors to sign at airshows and aviation events across America.  

During her tenure at Stores, she designed the WASP WWII Flag, which was voted OFFICIAL WASP WWII FLAG by the WASP organization.  She also created the WASP SCARF, which is still worn proudly by WASP across the country.  In 1994, Shutsy designed the WASP 50th Anniversary commemorative medallion, the WASP WWII collectible pin and in 1998, the logo for the Kids of the WASP.

For her service to her country, Florence Shutsy Reynolds was awarded the

American Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.  She was also awarded an honorable service lapel button and Woman’s Army Corps Service Medal.  She was a ground instructor certified in Link trainer, navigation, meteorology, aircraft, and engines.

She was a proud member of the Daedalians and in 1999, she was inducted into the International Forest of Friendship.  

She was elected Vice President of the National WASP WWII in 2004 and served until 2005, when she became acting President until 2006.  In 2007, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania honored her for being the first female to earn her pilots license. In 2010, Shutsy and her fellow WASP were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for their service to our country during World War II. (It is the highest honor our US Congress can bestow.)

In 2011, the Falcon Foundation nominated Shutsy for the Connellsville High Hall of Fame, and in 2016, The Connellsville Airport Terminal was renamed “Shutsy Reynolds Terminal”.

Shutsy was a member of St. Johns Church in Connellsville. She could hear the bells from her front door. 

Along the way, Shutsy made many, many friends...never, ever met a stranger...and spread joy and boundless enthusiasm.  She did it with honor and integrity, with kindness and with courage through some pretty tough health challenges.  

She was preceded in death by her parents, John and Anna, her husband, Lyle Reynolds, brothers Louis (Mary), Irvin (Annabelle), sister Eleanor (Henry) Michalowski.

Those surviving to honor her memory include nieces and nephews Bonnie (Edward) Franko, Jerry (Kathy) Shutsy, Cindy Shutsy, Nancy (Dave) Felcher, Carl Shutsy, Janet (Kerry) Barvincak, grandnephews Scott and Christopher and grandniece Brandy (Paul).

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in Shutsy’s memory to the Animal Protective League of Cleveland, where she rescued her beloved puppy, Cesar or to a charity of your choice.

Respectfully written by Nancy Parrish, with quotes from the Wings Across America's interview with Shutsy Reynolds.  


Personal Note:

If kindness, curiosity, humility, humor, generosity, persistence and honor could be rolled up into one person, it would be Shutsy Reynolds.  Those words are synonymous with the gentle, yet spunky lady pilot from Pennsylvania who blazed a trail and raised the bar.  

She was my friend, our champion, our first supporter as we began Wings Across America. I could never repay her kindness, but I was excited to use her likeness and her quote on the walls of our "Flygirls of WWII" WASP Exhibit.  I designed it to be six feet tall because to me, all the WASP are larger than life.   

I will miss her.  I will miss her encouraging voice and her unique, soft chuckle when she laughed.   But I am so grateful for the joy of knowing her and so honored to have called her my friend.  She still is.

I remember the old Indian legend her husband told her about.  When lightning strikes from the cloud to the ground, if you look quick, you might see what is waiting for you in eternity. For Shutsy, she was hoping for a Stearman with her name on it.  She added that she might want to renegotiate for an AT-6.  

As a Jesus follower, I am certain my friend, Shutsy Reynolds, is flying high in whatever plane she chooses from her brand new hangar full of planes.  

Fly high, my friend.  We are all better because we knew you.

God bless all of the those touched by this extraordinary woman. 

Nancy Parrish

              "Humility comes before honor."   Proverbs 18:12

More on Shutsy:



Monday, February 19, 2018

Marylyn E. Myers Holcomb Peyton, 44-5 | January 20, 2018

"I just put my money into flying lessons. Because I just felt in my heart that sooner or later they would have to rely on girls.  
...flying is just - you LOVE it, irregardless of what kind of an airplane you are in."

WASP Marylyn Peyton
Marylyn E. (Myers) Holcomb Peyton, passed away on January 20, 2018, a month short of her 94th birthday, in Sun City West, Arizona.

Marylyn was born in Kansas City, Missouri, on February 25, 1924, to Gaylord W. Myers and Mary B. Scoggins Myers.  She grew up in Lawrence, Kansas and then Des Moines, Iowa.  She left High School in order to work for United Airlines in Des Moines as a flight agent, and to take flying lessons in 1942, and became licensed as a pilot.  She was also a member of the Civil Air Patrol. 

Marylyn wanted to contribute to the war effort.  She heard of a group of women training to fly military aircraft to ferry planes and personnel, test planes, and pull gunnery targets, domestically - in order to free up male pilots for service overseas.  In December 1943 she began training in Sweetwater, Texas, with the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). 
Marylyn was among only 1,103 applicants (out of over 25,000 who applied) who were accepted and who passed the rigorous 7 months of training. She graduated with class 44-5 in June 1944 and served as a WASP test pilot stationed in Pecos, Texas.  Test pilots flew planes with reported defects to determine what needed to be fixed, and those that had been repaired, to check them out.  She had some amazing stories to tell.  She also was a flight instructor, and she ferried officers from base to base when needed.

The WASP were disbanded in December 1944, without having become officially veterans.  They finally received full veteran status in the late 1970’s.  Marylyn and her husband Bill helped to organize some WASP reunions, thereafter.  She provided a videotaped interview for the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project and for the official WASP archives, at Texas Women’s University, Denton, Texas, and supported the National WASP WWII Museum at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas. 

On March 10, 2010, Congress presented the surviving WASP, and representatives of those deceased, with the Congressional Gold Medal. Marylyn’s family accompanied her and another former WASP to Washington D.C. to receive the Medal. The Medal is the highest non-military medal Congress presents. Other WWII recipients include the Tuskegee Airmen and Navajo Code Talkers.

While working as a WASP in Pecos, Marylyn met Charles F. Holcomb, an Army Air Corp pilot. They married in 1944 and had one child, Cathy, in 1945. After an early wartime divorce, Marylyn raised Cathy as a single mother primarily in Denver, Colorado. Being drawn to aviation again, she worked in meteorology at United Air Lines for several years in Denver. 

She married William J. Peyton, Jr. (Bill) in 1962 in Denver, Colorado. Marylyn and Bill were happily married for 40 years. They enjoyed retirement in Colorado and Arizona, loved to travel in their Winnebago, and delighted in dancing to Big Band and swing music. They were both tall, and their heads could be seen above the crowd. They especially enjoyed time in the Rocky Mountains, where Bill had been a seasonal Ranger.

Marylyn remembered the thrill of flying to the end.  She was always a sky-watcher and enjoyed identifying the clouds and watching the weather.   The masthead for the original WASP newsletter, The Avenger, fittingly stated: "We live in the wind and sand...and our eyes are on the stars."

Marylyn took her “final flight” on January 20, 2018, at Brookdale Sun City West Sandridge (Freedom Inn). She and her family were always grateful for the wonderful care provided to her by the staff at Freedom Inn.   

She was preceded in death in 2002 by her loving husband, Bill. She is survived by her brother, Dr. John Myers, her half-sister, Lois Salazar (Sal), and her half-brother, Jim Myers (Diane). She is also survived by her daughter, Cathy Holcomb Goodwin (Doug Curless), her granddaughter, Dr. Kim Goodwin (Aaron Brennan), and her two great-grandchildren, Olivia and Chase Brennan. She is also survived by her three stepchildren, Bill Peyton, Louise Peyton, and Vincent Peyton, and their children. 

A memorial service was held at Camino del Sol Funeral Home in Sun City West, Arizona.  An internment followed at the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona.  Marylyn loved animals.  Therefore the family requests that in lieu of flowers, those wishing to make a donation in her name do so to their favorite animal rescue organization, or to Sun Cities 4 Paws Rescue, Inc.  PO Box 426, Youngtown, Arizona 85363.

Respectfully reposted from the family.

God bless all of those touched by this beautiful WASP.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Doris Boothe Wanty, 44-W-8 | Jan. 6, 2018

"After seeing the July 19, 1943 issue of Life Magazine, and the article on the pilot's training at Avenger Field, I decided this was the war effort I wished to pursue. ...   After my first lesson, I was hooked! 
                                        WASP Doris Wanty

WASP Doris Irene Boothe Wanty, age 95 of Oakdale, CA peacefully passed away on January 6, 2018, in her home.

She was born October 18, 1922, in Yosemite Valley, California the daughter of Clyde Dudley Boothe (One of the first park rangers in Yosemite), and Mildred Rowena Palmer Boothe of Modesto, California.

Doris' family moved to Modesto in 1929, where her father started Valley Tractor and later went into cattle ranching. She graduated from Modesto High School in 1940 and received her AA in Music from the College of the Pacific in 1942. There she was active in Epsilon Sigma Lambda Sorority: later nationalized and was initiated into Delta Gamma.

In August of 1943, after seeing an article in LIFE Magazine about the WASP, (Women Airforce Service Pilots), she obtained the required 35 hours of flight instruction in Independence, CA, She applied and received orders to report to Avenger Field, Sweetwater TX for the WASP training program. Doris was one of only 49 graduates of the original 114 accepted into class 44-W-8.  After graduating in October of 1944, she was assigned to Waco Army Air Base, TX, where she slow-timed engines, tested repaired or overhauled planes, transported military personnel and flew BT-13's and AT-6's.

After the WASP were deactivated on Dec. 22, 1944, she returned to Modesto and then worked at the Oakland Airport as an airway traffic controller.

In the summer of 1949 touring Europe, she met the love of her life Merritt (Mike) Wanty, from Oakland, CA, in Florence, Italy. They were married September 24,1949 in Modesto and lived in Dhahran, Arabia where Mike was employed as a geologist with ARAMCO. In the spring of 1951, they returned to Oakdale, CA where they have lived on their cattle and almond ranch and raised their four children.

Her greatest joys have been her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and her friends, including the same bridge club for 60 plus years, spending summers at their cabin in the mountains, and playing the piano. She was a 4-H leader, a member of McHenry Museum and the McHenry Mansion, Omega Nu Sorority, and Geneva Presbyterian Church in Modesto.

In 1977, Doris including all WASP were granted Veteran status and in 2009, they were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. Later in life, she and Mike traveled on several cruises and enjoyed WASP and Mike's Navy Destroyer reunions.

Doris is survived by her husband of 68 years, Merritt (Mike) Ward Wanty, her daughter's Diane Ravanesi (Pat) Western Springs, IL, Christine Sutton (Bob) Blossom, TX, Carol Ehrler (Bill) Modesto, and son, Merritt (Jake) Wanty (Victoria) Oakdale, a loving brother Everett Palmer Boothe (Charlotte deceased), 12 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren. 
The family wishes to thank all her dedicated, loving caregivers she has been blessed with.

Graveside services will be January 29, 2018, 11:00 am at Lakewood Memorial Park, Hughson, CA, followed by Memorial Services at Geneva Presbyterian Church, Modesto, CA.

In memory of Doris Wanty, please consider making a donation to Geneva Presbyterian Church, 1229 E Fairmont Ave., Modesto, CA 95350 or Nat'l WASP Museum, 210 Avenger Field Rd., Sweetwater, TX 79556.
respectfully edited and reposted:

*Quote by Doris  from p480 "Out of the Blue and Into History" by WASP Betty Turner 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Meriem Roby Anderson, 44-W-4 | January 5, 2018

"I was crazy about flying and as a little kid, even through grade school, I built model planes."
                   WASP Roby Anderson, 44-W-4 

Meriem Lucille Roby Anderson lived her life as a feisty, independent Flint Hills rancher up until a few months ago, when she suffered a debilitating fall.

The 96-year-old was tough as nails and had spent a lifetime creating a legacy. She was a member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, an elite group of more than 1,000 women who flew aircraft during World War II.

She died Friday, January 5, 2018, at the Greenwood County Hospital in Eureka.


Mrs. Anderson was born July 12, 1921, in Eureka, Kansas. Her parents – E.C. and Leota Roby – had means. She attended elementary and high school at Mrs. Harris’ School for Girls in Miami Beach, Fla., where her parents lived during the winter. 

The Robys would return each summer to their Flint Hills ranch. According to her daughter-in-law, Madeline Anderson, the first winter a young Meriem stayed in Eureka, she helped train 400 head of horses to send to the Army in France.

“I wanted to fly ever since I was a little kid,” Mrs. Anderson told the Eagle in 2004. “My parents weren’t real happy about it, but they felt differently after I got my wings.”

WASP took the same ground school and flight training as the men, except for combat flying. They flew aircraft from factories to overseas bases, towed targets for live anti-aircraft practice, transported cargo and test-flew repaired planes at U.S. bases before they were turned over to the male pilots. It was a select but dangerous duty. Of the 1,074 women who passed all the training, at least 38 were killed in the service.

Mrs. Anderson was stationed at Enid Army Air Base in Oklahoma, test-flying trainers after they had been repaired or worked on for any reason. 

Unlike other women’s branches of the service, WASPs were slow to be recognized as members of the military instead of civil-service employees. In 2010, Anderson and about 200 other WASPs went to Washington to receive Congressional Gold Medals for their service.

At the end of the war, when the WASPs were disbanded, she married Alexander “Harry” Anderson Jr. in Kansas City on Dec. 31, 1945. They lived on her family’s ranch, calling it the “Dead End Ranch.” 

Her passions were flying and animals; big band, reggae and steel drum music; and watching “Gunsmoke” and “Walker, Texas Ranger” reruns.

“There were no Hallmark movies with her,” Madeline Anderson said.   She raised appaloosa horses, buffalo, chickens, guineas, and peacocks and had 17 cats and 34 dogs.

Throughout her life, she faithfully maintained her ties with the other WASPs, returning each Memorial Day weekend to Sweetwater, Texas, where a museum to them had been established. 

“You could tell when these women got together — from a distance, they looked like these silver-haired ladies with walkers and wheelchairs,” Madeline Anderson said. “But when you listened to them, they were just a bunch of pilots sitting around. The ones that knew each other insulted and loved each other. She had great camaraderie with them and they meant the world to her.

“The one thing that endured in her life was that she was a WASP. She was most proud of that and we would drive from Eureka to Sweetwater each year where we had wonderful times. She was part of those scrappy few who still got together.”

Mrs. Anderson was a life member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots, the Women Military Aviators Association and the Ninety-Nines International Organization of Women Pilots.
She continued flying until the 1970s.

She is survived by her daughter-in-law, Madeline Anderson of Boulder, Colo.; friend Larry Richardson of Eureka; and granddaughter, Theresa L. Anderson.

Graveside services will be at 2 p.m. on Tuesday at Greenwood Abbey, Greenwood Cemetery, in Eureka. Col. Marilyn Jenkins of the United States 

In lieu of flowers, the family has requested memorials be made to the Greenwood County Hospital or the Kansas Humane Society. Contributions may be sent in care of Koup Family Funeral Home, P.O. Box 595, Eureka, KS 67045, which is overseeing arrangements.

Posted as written by Beccy Tanner: 316-268-6336@beccytanner
and as published in the Wichita Eagle

Photos added from Wings Across America

Personal Note:

WASP Roby Anderson was just plain one-of-a-kind. Daughter of a Texas Ranger, she was a true cowgirl who fell in love with flying!   

We were honored to visit her at her beautiful Dead End Ranch in Eureka, Kansas.  We watched as a small herd of beefalo came to the fence to say hello.   She was a bit camera shy and wasn't too excited to share her story...but she did. She didn't think it was that important.  It was.  She was.  

She had a quiet sense of patriotism and a deep love of her country and the women she served with. In Roby, there was pure joy.  She loved to laugh, and when she talked about flying, her face lit up and her eyes just sparkled.

What an honor to know her and call her friend.  

God bless all of those touched by this amazing, joyful woman.

Nancy Parrish

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Elizabeth Maxine Chambers Cramsey, 44-W-3 May 11, 1961

Reposted from the National Archives

A WASP’s Story

Betty wanted more. Like more than 1,000 other women, she took to the skies to find it.
Betty and her comrades applied to an innovative civilian program designed to employ women to ferry wartime aircraft, serve as flight instructors, tow targets for live anti-aircraft practice, transport cargo, and fly experimental aircraft. These female pilots relieved men from domestic duties so they could fight overseas in the war.
The WASP program was created in August 1943 when two other formerly established programs were merged: Jacqueline Cochran’s Women’s Flying Training Detachment (WFTD) and Nancy Harkness Love’s Women’s Auxiliary Ferry Squadron (WAFS). The WASP program was directed by Jacqueline Cochran while Nancy Love became the Executive of the Ferry Division of the Air Transport Command.
Women who possessed a pilot’s license and were between the ages of 21 and 35 were welcome to apply. Aviatrixes across the United States fled from their desks and kitchens to climb into cockpits to serve their country.
After an interview process, the women were trained as rigorously as military pilots and were paid at a rate of $1,800 per year. Successful trainees were stationed at one of 120 air bases, paid $3,000 per year, and reclassified as civilian pilots.
Like the majority of her fellow pilots, Betty Chambers received her training at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas. After training, Betty was sent to Turner Field in Albany, Georgia then attended the Army Air Force Tactical School in Orlando, Florida. She was later stationed at Greenwood Army Air Field in Greenwood, Mississippi.
As male pilots returned from wartime service, WASP members in service at the end of 1944 were forced to resign. Men wanted to fly domestically, and the country wanted women back at home to take care of their families. Betty Chambers was among the group of women whose service ended when the WASP program was disbanded.
This December 20 marks the 70th anniversary of the deactivation of the WASP program, a program so beloved by the women who served under it that many alumnae continued to fly and attend reunions.
On November 2, 1977, President Jimmy Carter signed Public Law 95-202, which granted military veteran status to all who served under the WASP program. In 2009, the highest medal awarded to civilians—the Congressional Gold Medal—was bestowed upon the Women Airforce Service Pilots.
The National Archives at St. Louis maintains the civilian WASP official personnel folders (OPFs). The administrative paperwork in these files reveals story after story of WASP adventures and history. OPFs are open to the public and photocopies of OPFs can be obtained for a fee. Please visit for more information.

Respectfully reposted from THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Lois Kay Gott Chaffey, 43-W-2 | August 21, 2017

Lois Kay Gott Chaffey ~ July 18, 1920 – August 21, 2017

The timing of Kay Chaffey’s goodbye was fitting. It was dark for a moment that Monday morning, August 21, as the sun was disappearing behind the moon for a total eclipse. Kay passed away in Oregon where she spent the final years of her life. The sun didn’t come back to shine on her that day. She’s gone, and will be greatly missed by so many in so many ways.
Born Lois Kay Gott in Nampa, Idaho, Kay lived her whole life in the Northwest. As a girl, she joined the Girl Scouts and excelled in sports, especially tennis. She also learned to fly airplanes in nearby Caldwell, long before she ever drove a car.
At age 18, Kay convinced her aunt to loan her $50 so she could pay her tuition at the College of Idaho. But sensing a war was coming she dropped out and entered the Civilian Pilot Training Program and got a flying license.
In 1942, when WWII came, Kay was selected as part of the second wave of a volunteer paramilitary organization known as Women’s Airforce Service Pilots or WASPs. She flew 17 different types of fighter planes from the P-51 Mustang (her favorite) to B-25 Mitchells, ferrying the planes throughout the United States until the fighting was done.
With the war over, she returned to the College of Idaho to complete her B. A., then received an M.A. from Univ. of Oregon in Eugene. In 1950, she became a physical education assistant professor at what was then Humboldt State College. She taught archery, tennis and badminton and her favorite, dance: modern dance, social dance and her extra favorite, international folk dance.
Somewhere along the way she met a local boy, the love of her life, Keith Chaffey. They married in 1963. He served as her dance partner when he wasn’t teaching local children, with a focus on Humboldt Country’s deaf community.
Keith and Kay loved traveling the world together, from climbing up to Machu Picchu, to seeing the bronze horses high in Venice’s St. Mark’s square, to watching moose graze near Mt. Denali in Alaska, along the way learning new dances or just exploring the wonders of nature.
In 1982, after 32 fulfilling years teaching, Kay retired. She then moved on to the next phase of her life, writing books. Her work there reflected her strong sense of history and her passionate drive to record the experiences of individuals and groups.
Her first book was Women in Pursuit: Flying Fighters for the Air Transport Command, published in 1993. Next came Hazel Ah Ying Lee, Women Airforce Service Pilot, World War II: A Portrait, published in 1996, telling the story of a Chinese-American WASP pilot, who died in a fiery plane crash.
Next she turned her collection of photos and scrapbooks detailing her teaching career into Celebrating Dance: Three Decades at Humboldt State, 1950-1982. When Kay was hired in 1950 to teach p.e., the department was small — just the dep. head, a coach, and Kay. It was a time when programs were being built and people had opportunities to be creative. In addition women’s sports, Kay was assigned to teach folk dance. Having no background in dance, she spent her Christmas vacation at a workshop at Mills College, wearing out five pairs of shoes. That was the first of many trips, here and abroad, to study dance and folk dance under master teachers.
Deeply aware of Humboldt’s isolation, she brought nationally recognized performers and teachers of modern and folk dance to give performances and workshops. She attended dance camps and brought back music and dances to teach and encouraged students to attend dance camps.
Kay believed that customs, costumes and cultures were intrinsic to the dances and included them in her teaching. Class parties had themes with appropriate costumes and food. Exhibition groups frequently made their own costumes. Kay collected textiles and pieces from folk costumes during her travels to assist them. They danced at schools, churches, the Swiss Club, the Runeberg Lodge, community events, etc. They made lasting relationships with the local ethnic groups whose dances they performed.
It should be noted, that for Kay, “international” was just that, no real borders, everything from African and South Seas Islands to Latin American and Native American dance in addition to Jewish and European dances.
Basically, Kay was an exuberant and energetic person who delighted in delving into new experiences, making connections with people and giving fully of her time and energy. Folk dancers did a joint performance with Bonnie Messenger’s Reader’s Theater. She took her modern dance classes to the beach where the dancers became models for Tom Knight’s photography classes.
Starting not long after she came to Humboldt, she established a May Day tradition of winding the Maypole that’s carried on ’til this day. When Keith died in 2000, she worked with friends to create Maypole kits for seven schools where he had taught, so the children could celebrate dance in remembrance of Keith. (At the time of her death, Kay had almost finished a book on the Maypole Dance, as well as an autobiography.)
Another chapter in her life became another book, Flying the ’64 Flood, published in 2009. For as long as she could, Kay kept up with her piloting skills. She maintained a commercial pilot’s license for years. In 1964, when Northern California was hard hit by a flood that completely cut off the Northcoast from the rest of the world, she was one of those who risked their lives flying relief missions.
After a long campaign, in 1979, the U.S. Air Force finally took the retroactive step of including all WASP pilots as official members of the U.S. Air Force, with veterans benefits. In 2010, she joined many of the surviving WASPs at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. where the U.S. Congress honored the women with the Congressional Gold Medal in tribute to their unsung heroism.
Kay was deeply involved with the North Coast Vintage Aircraft Society. Again, she had a strong sense of the importance of recording life experiences. Aware that many pilots in the aircraft society were aging and concerned that their experiences would be lost, she helped gather their oral histories on tape. In turn, Kay was interviewed in 1999 for the KEET-TV series, Living Biographies. In 2008, Kay was named to the North Coast Aviation Society’s Hall of Fame and additionally presented with a Certificate of Congressional Recognition.
Kay was an avid bird-watcher with a long life list and served as secretary of the Redwood Region Audubon Society. She was also an environmental activist who supported the Nature Conservancy and the work of the Northcoast Environmental Center. She was active in the battle to save the standing redwood groves in Northern California when they were being logged off in the early ‘60s. Remember, this was a time when that was not a popular stance for a teacher at Humboldt State. In short, she played a pivotal role in establishing Redwood National Park.
Kay and Keith never had children of their own. Despite this, a clipping she shared in Celebrating Dance notes that she was named the 1968 “Mother of the Year” at Humboldt State. Kay was like everyone’s mom, someone to lean on when a friend was needed.
Despite the fact that Humboldt was much of her life for more than a half century, in June of 2004 she left her home here to spend her waning days in Rogue Valley Manor, a retirement home in Medford. She didn’t ever want to be a burden to others and felt that the manor would take care of all her needs.
She is survived by nephews, Daniel and Brian Gott, a niece, P.K. Gott, and their spouses and family who tell us, “Kay was one-of-a-kind, and her rich laughter will be greatly missed by all who knew her.” Join them in honoring her memory on Saturday, Sept. 30, at 2 p.m. in the Sunrise Room at Rogue Valley Manor.
Kay Chaffey’s legacy in folk dance will be celebrated Friday, Oct. 6, at 8 p.m. at the Humboldt Folk Dancers’ monthly party at Redwood Raks, in the Arcata Creamery, 8th and L sts. Some favorite dances Kay taught will be featured with Chubritza playing along with a winding of Kay’s beloved Maypole with the Maypole Band and Oktoberfest dances by Hansel Und Gretel’s Pumpernickel Band. All are welcome.
A grand celebration for Kay Chaffey’s life is planned for Sunday, Nov. 5, from 2-5 p.m. at the Arcata Veterans Memorial Hall, 1425 J St. at the corner of 14th and J sts. All are invited to gather and share light potluck snacks and fond memories of Kay and her bright shining light.

Respectfully reposted-- Written by Kym Kemp  September 25, 2017

Monday, June 26, 2017

Mary Jean Barnes Sturdevant, 44-7 | June 24, 2017

Mary Jean (Barnes) Sturdevant passed away at the age of 95, on June 24, 2017 in Graham, WA. She was a 46 year resident of Spanaway, WA.  

Mary was born September 28, 1921 in Bend, Oregon. She lived quite an interesting and exciting life she was active in her community, serving her country, and devoted to her family.  

Mary was a Tacoma Lariette Drill Team and riding club member from 1968 until she could no longer ride, some 40 years total. She maintained an interest in the group,
 and the Tacoma Unit community arena until she passed. She also belonged to the Back Country Horsemen organization. Mary faithfully attended St. Mary's Episcopal Church of Lakewood for 40 years, until she could no longer drive. Church volunteers maintained contact with her, visiting her monthly.

Mary enjoyed acquiring her education and graduated as Valedictorian at Phoenix High school in 1939. While in school she earned the Golden Eaglet award through the Girl Scouts of America, their highest award and equivalent to that of Eagle Scout.

Mary discovered a love of flying as a young adult. In 1939, she was 1 of 3 women able to enter a civilian pilot program at Southern Oregon University. She earned her ground school certification and pilot's license there. One she graduated, she set up a ground-school program at Medford (Oregon) High School, instructing interested students there, with the Medford Flying Service furnishing the airplanes. Later, she did the same at Eastern Oregon College, La Grand for the War Training Service Program, under the auspices of the Army Air Corps. She then went to Washington State University (Pullman, WA) and was the chief instructor to cadets sent there preparing to be pilots, navigators and bombardiers. She applied to the WASP (Women Air Force Service Pilots) program (along with 25, 000 other women) and was eventually one of 1820 who were accepted into training. She could not leave WSU until they found an instructor to replace her, so her entry into the WASP program was delayed until February 1944.

Entering class 44-W-7, she trained at Sweetwater, Texas. Her class initially consisted of 90 women, all of whom had to have their pilot's licenses already and a base amount of flying experience. Still, only 45 of the 90 were ultimately able to graduate from the rigorous training regimen. She was then stationed at Merced (CA) Army Air Base, Base Operations, flying AT-6s and BT-13s and instructing male pilots who would be sent overseas to fight in WWII. While at Merced, she met Philip A. Sturdevant, where he was also a pilot and instructor. They eventually married, after the War. The WASP program was disbanded in December, 1944, at the end of the War.  The women, including Mary, were left to get home on their own after abrupt termination of the program.

Mary lived the life of an Air Force wife thereafter, moving as her husband's duty assignments required, raising 3 children and moving every few years. At each base she found ways to contribute. She was always active in the local Episcopal Church. She was a military hospital volunteer (known then as Gray Ladies). She was a PTA member, serving as President in several elementary schools her children attended. She was a Brownie and Girl Scout leader. 

In 1971, she enrolled in Clover Park Vocational Technical School and graduated as Legal Secretary. After a short stint working with an attorney in private practice, she was employed by Pierce County Court, from which she retired. Her interest in photography was piqued while at Clover Park, and she took up the hobby in her retirement. 

Mary traveled extensively and was most proud of her visit to Russia, where she met the "Night Witches," Russia's version of the WASP. She used her photography skills to document her may travels, and the friends she shared her trips with.  

Mary maintained life-long interests in horses and dogs. She bred, raised, trained and showed AKC registered german shepherds. She trained other people's dogs, bringing them to show level ratings. Over time she also had a collie, a poodle, a cocker spaniel, and several Border Collie mix dogs, whom she referred to as the Cannardly breed – you "Can Hardly" tell what they were! She was an indefatigable horsewoman who confidently rode Western style, and occasionally English , and was an active precision equestrian drill team member for 40 years, riding for at least 25 of those years. She belonged to the Back Country Horsemen riding group and rode on trail- rides well into her 70s, trailering and tacking her own horses plus hauling her own camping equipment. 

In March 2010, Mary was the honored recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest award given to civilians. In February of 2017, she was interviewed by a film crew working on the documentary "Fly Girls." Her daughter and granddaughter (both pilots) were interviewed at the same time, in order to include a perspective of women in aviation across several decades. A trailer for the film can be viewed at 

Mary is survived by son Jack B. Sturdevant of Glouster, VA and daughters Jean E. Best of Renton, WA and Faith C. (Steve) Jeffrey of Lacey, WA, as well as 8 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren.  

She was preceded in death by her father William D. Barnes, her mother Cornelia Drake (Wilson) Barnes, and her brother W. Donald Barnes.  

Donations may be made to the National WASP-WWII Museum 

National WASP WWII Museum
P. O. Box 456
Sweetwater, TX 79556


respectfully reposted with minor edits for accuracy  from Weeks Funeral Home page
photo - Wings Across America