Iona Gamertsfelder of Las Vegas, N.M., died of cancer on Tuesday, September 18, 2013 at the age of 84. She went to the doctor to get help with her back ache, only to learn that she had cancer. Her daughter, Laura Tapia, said she was gone in only two to three weeks. She is buried in the Santa Fe National Cemetery next to her husband Paul, who passed away just nine months ago.
Iona was born in 1929 on the Inmon Ranch, in the far southwestern bootheel of New Mexico. She was a golfer, pilot, teacher and homemaker with 4 children, 11 grandkids and 5 great-grandkids. A member of the 99s since 1990, Iona learned to fly as a teenager—she and her brother flew their J-3 Cub from the ranch to school every day—and she received her pilot's license nearly 50 years later. Delightfully spunky, Iona will be missed by all of her Rio Grande Norte chapter sisters.
BARBARA A. DOOLITTLE
On May 27, 2013, Barbara A. Doolittle, of Watrous and Santa Fe, NM, passed into her next great adventure. She went peacefully, surrounded by love. She was a rancher, pilot, world traveler, and loving counsel to all who knew her. Barbara was a charter member of the Rio Grande Norte Chapter Ninety-Nines, and though not active in recent years, she was an enthusiastic supporter of women in aviation. Two of Barbara's children followed her into aviation, as did her late husband. Her family and friends will miss her but we know that her essence is still with us and that she has a great journey ahead of her.
ARLENE C. WALSH
“A day without chocolate is like a day without sunshine” was my
favorite of Arlene Walsh’s sayings. She had ready comments about the
Black Fairy, particularly when she got herself into Arlene’s computer
and that “Pluto must be in retrograde” to explain an unpleasant day. A
poet, pilot, knitter, teacher, author and airplane builder, Arlene lived
each and every day with dreams and goals, but most importantly, love
and a great sense of humor. She was life embodied and oh, how she loved
to fly with us.
A charter member of the Rio Grande Norte Chapter, Arlene was
instrumental in locating the women that formed the nucleus of the
chapter. A resident of Santa Fe for 22 years, she found us all and
brought us together. Sadly, while driving to her favorite airshow, an
antique biplane event in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, Arlene died in a single
automobile accident in Clayton, NM on May 31, 2007. She was 71 and
truly knew how to live.
Arlene was building a pietenpol biplane. After her death it was donated to a Build-a-Plane project in Alaska, where students will finish it. Arlene would have loved that! The two articles below highlight this project.