Palo Alto County

Margaret J. Phelan


Des Moines (AP)—Iowa women who were graduated in this week’s class of women’s air force service pilots (WASPS) at Avenger Field, Sweetwater, Tex., included Margaret J. Phelan, Emmetsburg; Dorothea Marie Norris, Indianola; Mrs. Elvin Arnold, Mount Etna; Urcela D. Wald, Runnells; Martha Anne Mace, Washington; and Meridee A. Newell, Woodward.

Source: Carroll Daily Times Herald, July 1, 1944


Eight Iowa girls were included in the graduation class of women's airforce service pilots (WASP) at Avenger field, Sweetwater, Tex., this week.

Beverly Jean Moses, daughter of Alex Moses, 1101 Nineteenth st. was secretary to the general superintendent of the Solar Aircraft Co. before joining the WASP last December.

Marylyn E. Myers, daughter of Mrs. Mary Shields, 945 Eight st, was one of the first women airlines radio operators, and a passenger agent for United Air Lines.

Margaret J. Phelan, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Phelan, Emmetsburg, was a draftsman at the Vega Aircraft Corp., Burbank, Cal.

Dorothea Marie Norris, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Earl Norris, Indianola, was a typist for the internal revenue department in Des Moines.

Mrs. Elvin (Darlene) Arnold, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Calkins, Mount Etna, is a former school teacher whose husband is in the navy.

Urcela D. Wald, daughter of Mrs. Myrta Wald, Runnells, was employed by the Solar Aircraft Co. in Des Moines.

Martha Anne Mace, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Glenn E. Mace, Washington, was secretary to the manager of the Des Moines Flying Service.

Merridee A. Newell, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Leslie Newell, Woodward, was a music student at the State University of Iowa, Iowa City.

Source: The Des Moines Register, July 1, 1944

Her Obituary:

Margaret Phelan Taylor died on July 1, two days after suffering a massive brain hemorrhage at home. The daughter of Budd and Mary Phelan, Margaret was born in a pioneer log cabin on her parents' farm outside Emmetsburg, Iowa, on September 20, 1923. At a very early age, Margaret taught herself to read. When she had read all of the books on the children's shelf at the local public library, she talked her mother into surreptitiously checking out adult fiction for her. After graduating from St. Mary's Academy in Emmetsburg in 1940, she attended Clarke College in Dubuque, Iowa, for two years, before going to Burbank, California to work as a draftsman for Vega Aircraft Corporation, a defense plant.

In 1943, she joined the Women Airforce Service Pilots, ferrying planes throughout the Western United States for the U.S. Army Air Corps. Discharged in late 1944, the following year she married Jim Taylor, an Army Air Corps pilot she had met at Stockton Field in California. Following the birth of their son, Clif, and daughter, Merridee, she returned to college, earning her B.A. degree in Education from San Francisco State College in 1954.

She worked as an elementary school teacher following graduation. In 1955 Margaret and Jim moved to Palo Alto, where she later worked at Stanford Bookstore. Margaret and Jim traveled extensively, visiting South America, Europe, Russia, Australia and the Far East. She and Jim celebrated fifty years of marriage in 1995. All the while Margaret continued to read voraciously, and was an accomplished cook, seamstress, and knitter as well. Jim died in 2006.

A lifelong Democrat, Margaret was a passionate supporter of Barack Obama. In 2010, Margaret, along with other members of the W.A.S.P. were invited to Washington, D.C. and awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for their service during World War II.

Margaret is survived by her children, Clif (Jane) and Merridee Taylor, her "darling" grandsons Jamie (Holley) and Daniel (Lisa), her great granddaughter, Sophia Margaret, her sisters, Helen Augustine and Kay Pitcher, and various nieces and nephews.

A viewing will take place on Sunday, July 19th from 3-5 p.m. at St. Athanasius Church, 160 N. Rengstorff Ave.,Mtn. View, with Rosary at 3:30 p.m. Funeral Mass at St. Athanasius Church , Mon. July 20th at 10:30 a.m. In lieu of flowers, please vote the straight Democratic ticket in all upcoming elections. Arrangements by Cusimano Family Colonial Mortuary, 650-968-4453.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, July 12, 2015