Have Your Say

This page is for anyone who would like to say something …


45 responses

2 03 2010
Kenton Clark

I met Mary when she and Dave were running the fixed base operation at the Susanville airport, when Mary hauled me to some fire or other. We connected again in 1978, when she was Aviation Safety Officer for the Region, and I came to the RO as Asst. Director, Fire and Aviation Mgmt, and she worked for me.After a stint in the WO, she came back to California as Regional Aviation Officer, and worked for me again in Sacramento, until she retired. We had some great times together, and a lot of mutual respect.

My wife, Jeannette and I were proud to be present when Mary was inducted into the Aviation Hall of Fame, in 2001 in Reno.

2 03 2010
David Bricker

Molly and Nevada, thank you for sharing your mom with us. She was a wonderful next door neighbor and a true friend. I left her wind chime hanging next to her door post so I can hear noises from her house. It still chimes when the wind blows (and it blows often) and when it does, I’m reminded of your mom. I still miss having her next door. She could always be seen from our house walking along all of her foot trails she had. The trails were for her, because Beau would always be 30′ ahead (off trail) chasing invisible objects and squirrels.

Your mom left me in charge of Barn Lady (an adopted cat she had), but she disappeared at some point, but her bed still awaits another animal to come by and claim the territory. She loved her animals. Yes, even when beau was so hyper that he couldn’t stand still.

We will always have our memories and our pictures that will remind us of who she was to each and every one of us. I also have her Forest Service Mailbox Key Ring that will be a reminder of her and since my career is with the Forest Service, it means a little more.

Love, Dave, Debbie, Holly and Erica

2 03 2010
Anita Bianconi

I did not know Mary, but I feel I must compliment her on her wonderful daughters. I have not met either one personally (yet), but hope too some time in my life.
Her daughter Molly has become one of the mainstays in my life, through the pure enjoyment of Kittycam. Molly has opened her life to all of us “family” and the warmth and love comes right through. I know of no other person more devoted to the proper care and raising of her kittes. We have all sufferd together through the bumps in the road when tragedy struck and have been there to console each other.
Molly and Nevada are a testament to the fine job Mary did in raising her daughters, and I thank her for it.

2 03 2010

We extend our heartfelt prayers. How proud this family is of Mary, and without a doubt she passed her amazing gifts on to her children.
A Beautiful Tribute, Molly.
God Bless,

3 03 2010
Johnny Moore

I met Mary as an uneasy Private Pilot candidate flying Wardman’s Cessna 120 in 1960. She laughed when she saw that I had left the oil cap off!

Our paths crossed many times–my next official visit to Susanville was for my Commercial check ride. I’m looking back from a view of 29,000 hours now.

I write about her a few times in my book, “I Must Fly!” Mary was a person to admire-she deserves the best!

3 03 2010
Margy Nickelson

I worked in the Regional Office of the Forest Service in San Francisco and knew Mary quite well. She was always an inspiration to me and I held her in very high regard. Having been the first woman in the Region to hold the position of Group Leader for Telecommunications, I looked to Mary for words of wisdom and she always provided me with good counsel. She was a wise and courageous woman who is to be admired by everyone. God speed, Mary.

3 03 2010
Mindy Turitz

Aunt Molly – this is a wonderful tribute to Grandma. I loved looking at the pictures of her. What a spitfire!


3 03 2010
Bertie Honn

I remember the first time I met Mary. I was an early teenager and Molly was not two yet. Molly you and your folks had flown to Colfax, WA because our Grandpa Barr had passed away. I always loved Mary and admired her very much. After I was married and Floyd learned to fly, ( your father taught him ) We used to make an annual trip to Susanville to get our plane annualed. We saw the display of Mary at the Smithsonian. We were very proud and impressed. Molly, your mother was very proud of you and Neva. Keep in touch

4 03 2010

Molly, your tribute to your mom is so lovingly written and so touching. I feel privileged to read it and look at the wonderful pictures you posted of her. Mary Barr was clearly an extraordinary and accomplished woman, beautiful and of great spirit. She definitely passed those genes on to her daughters, of whom no doubt she was very, very proud! Hers was a good life. Now she flies beyond the blue horizon, free.
Warmest Aloha and hugs from Kat

4 03 2010
Joan Wynn

I’m sorry to hear about her passing. I would like to thank her for paving the way for other women in the Forest Service who wanted to do a job that was non-traditional for women at that time.

6 03 2010
Laura Roberts

This is a wonderful tribute to your Mom, thank you Molly and Nevada. I admired her greatly. Late in the 60’s I lived about a mile from the airport in Susanville and always knew where I could get a beautiful Siamese kitten from time to time. Her kitties were the best and we had them for many years! About twelve years ago our paths crossed again. We enjoyed a trip to San Francisco where we saw Molly’s work at the California Science Academy, attended Miss Saigon at the Orpheum Theater, and enjoyed countless hours of conversation during and after the trip. I was privileged to fly with Mary around our area and to continue our conversations over a cool drink in her front yard enjoying the view of the ranch and nearby mountains. To a gracious, kind and inspiring friend, thank you Mary for the memories.

6 03 2010
Jim Barnes

Mary was a great pilot, a pioneer in women’s aviation and an inspiration to every young girl that ever dreamed of flying as a career.

I new Mary and flew behind her on several tanker runs. Her priority was the safety of the tanker pilots she was leading. She was a really great gal and I am greatly saddened to hear of her passing.

The really great thing is she lived a very full life and made many great contributions to the US Forest Service air program. For me that says it all.

Love and Respect to Mary, her family and her many friends.

Jim Barnes

6 03 2010
Fred Benton

When I first met Mary, I was a CDF Fire Captain in Susanville. I was lucky enough to fly with her many times, spotting lightning fires, directing airtankers, helping ground units find their way in, etc. (She saw the smokes first, usually!) Mary’s warmth, humor and professionalism made every trip a joy. She was unquestionably the smoothest and safest pilot I ever flew with, and I have tried to model my own flying on her example. One of my favorite memories is Mary making a low pass to scare antelope off the runway at the old Devil’s Garden airport, where we needed to land to wait out a nearby thunderstorm. As we were going around, keeping our eyes on the running pronghorns, Mary had a big smile on her face, saying: “My gosh–aren’t they beautiful!”
After my retirement I did some free-lance writing. Hearing that Mary had become a literary agent, I sent her a novel to look at. She was enthusiastic about the book, but wasn’t able to represent me for very long, due to health issues. As always, though, she was most kind and helpful with her suggestions on ways to improve the story.
Mary Barr lived an exemplary life, marked by adventure and achievement. I’m glad to have known her–on the ground and in the air. My deepest condolences to Mary’s family…
Fred Benton

6 03 2010
Molly Barr

Hi Everyone, I’m reading each entry with tears in my heart. I LOVE hearing your stories of mom. I may not be able to respond to them all, but know that I (we) are reading them and appreciate your taking the time to write in. What a great tribute to mom. Laura, I remember that visit well when you and mom came to stay with me, and Fred – what a great story. Do you know that near the end of her passing one of the thoughts still clear in her mind were of the antelope and the wild horses. I hope you keep writing. Dave, what a wonderful idea the wind chimes are, and thank you for being such a good neighbor and friend to her.

It is wonderful to hear of the many facets of mom through the years, and of all the lives she touched.

6 03 2010
Ray Craig

My heartfelt condolences to Marys family. I moved to Susanville in 1966 with 22 hours in my logbook. Finished my private, and a few years later, my commercial with Mary. What a great pilot and teacher she was!

One side of Mary that some didn’t know was that she was also quite a fine musician. We started a small orchestra around 1967 and Mary played violin. She also studied piano after her retirement. Music played a big part in her leisure time.

I have always felt blessed to have known and worked with Mary. She continues to be an inspiration for all of us to aspire to better landings in both our flying and in life.

Ray Craig

7 03 2010
Janoa Sabelle

My knowledge of Mary is through a friend, someone who is aware I am constantly am on the look-out for books from her daughter, Nevada.

How thrilling to learn the details of Mary Barr’s life and the numerous accomplishments she made, and in positions considered gender specific, she was definitely ahead of her time.

Although she lived in an era renowned for a woman’s place ‘being in the home’, she managed to tally-up a plethora of major accomplishments. The passion and intestinal fortitude necessary to master the various skills she acquired, is absolutely awe inspiring. From a generation known for it’s ‘Leave it to Beaver’ and ‘Happy Homemaker’s niche, she instead chose a path filled with; societal, personal and physical challenges, she not only endured, but flourished.

She chose her vocation, far from ‘The Secretarial Pool’,m (so familiar to her peers), with a belief there are no barriers which are insurmountable. Set your goal in life and hold firm.

What an amazing woman Mary Barr was – what a legacy she leaves. What she accomplished in her life, should be an inspiration for generations.

7 03 2010


7 03 2010
Dick & Nancy Henry

Dear Molly, Dick flew with your mother many times from the middle 70’s well into the late 80’s. He was also director of the Interagency Fire Training Center at Marana from 1980-84. She attended events there many times and I had the pleasure of finally meeting her, a living legend to all of us. Dick always enjoyed being in a plane with Mary, she was the best. Our condolences to you and her family. Dick and Nancy Henry, now of Chico, CA

8 03 2010
Rich Kanavel

Dear Molly and Neva,

I was sad to hear that your mom is no longer with us. I last saw her and said hi to her a few of years ago at the Janesville gas station.

I have admired your mom since I was a little kid (5 or 6 years old?). I’ll let my mom and the rest of my family know of her passing. Mary will be greatly missed by us all.


8 03 2010
Kathy & Ray Valenzuela

I did not know Mary but knew of her by her incredible reputation. I have 32 years in with the USFS and I know that Mary helped blaze the way for women that came along later. I have nothing but awe and highest regard for her and for her family. My husband worked in aviation for the USFS and then CDF in Susanville so, in many ways – we crossed paths. I wish I had know Mary personally – she was quite a woman. THANK YOU for being you, Mary.

8 03 2010
LaVeta Nevius

I worked for the Lassen National Forest in the dispatch office with Vern Kasper in 1972-1974 when I transferred to the Tahoe National Forest. Mary flew me to a meeting in Willows, CA and it was my first plane ride and I was very nervous but felt so comfortable with Mary at the controls. It was not without incident however, on the way back we came upon a forest fire. The lead plane had collided with the air tanker which crashed and the pilot was killed. The lead plane had landed safely near the fire. Fortunately, Vern did not relay all of this information to us because he knew how nervous I was. It was my only flight with Mary but I was so impressed with her and followed her career. My condolences to the family of this extraordinary woman.

9 03 2010
Tom Hail

I met Mary and Dave several times as a kid at the Susanville airport with my grandfather Evan Chappuis. Evan always had great respect for Mary and her accomplishments, always updating me as I grew up with the news of her career over the years. After reading these comments, it dawns on me that my respect for women in all careers was shaped in no small part by Mary’s career. My own daughters are heading into their own professions and I am sure that Mary’s example to me helped in some part my encouragement to them.

9 03 2010
Charlotte Larson

I am so sorry for your loss. I called Mary before I decided to accept a FS pilot job. (I was #2.) She was a successful pioneer that paved the way for other woman to join the agency. I was always grateful for that. Although I did not have an opportunity to know her well, her presence always provided motivation to achieve new goals. She set the bar high for those that followed. In discussing her passing with other pilots it has often been said “she was a very good pilot”. I hope I can be so well regarded when it’s my time. Blue skies Mary.

9 03 2010
Andy Leven

I met Mary when she was working in the Washington Office. When an aircraft accident or a FS accident with a fatality occurred in the region, a staff director was assigned to lead a team to make a safety investigation of the incident to see if new safety measures needed to be implemented. She was a team member assigned from the WO on a couple of aircraft accident investigations that I lead while I was RO Watershed Staff Director here in Region 5.

I learned a lot about aircraft use in Forest Service fire fighting from Mary. She was a pleasure to work with and I always hoped that she would be assigned to help me when I lead an investigation involving aircraft.

10 03 2010
Meg Confrey

I remember meeting Aunt Wit (Mary Barr) for the first time in summer in the mid1970s. Mom (Aunt Wit’s big sister) and I stayed with her and Uncle Dave at the ranch house. Mom got to fly with Aunt Wit on one of her fire fighting flights and shared with me her bug-eyed impressions of that trip. I just remember Uncle Dave literally carrying her in his arms from the plane door into the airport house. She was exhausted. That particular fire took 30,000 acres in a few days. Later that week, Aunt Wit made a wonderful dinner for mom and I, and I tried cole slaw for the first time. It was home made by Aunt Wit and it was delicious! I also remember Uncle Dave introducing me to Lucy Walker books (great reading by the carousel fire place in the ranch house). He also scared the willies out of me one night. He brought mom back late and I heard shots fired, but no one spoke and he didn’t some into the house right away. I slithered from the couch onto the floor (some brave New Yorker I am). Turns out he was after a beaver that was girdling a tree on the property. He also introduced me to the family gun which was kept under the family bible. It was a whole different world for me and I loved them for it. During that week, Aunt Wit took both mom and I up in her Cessna and flew over the desert. That’s when she told us that she kept an eye on the wild horses for Wild Horse Annie. We didn’t see any on that trip, but she did point out the wild burros. Whenever I see anything about Wild Horse Annie, I always think of Aunt Wit. She was clearly a lover of animals (must be in the family genes). I have so many more memories from that one week and to think they have remained so crisp and clear over the ensuing 30+ years. My mom was always so proud of her sister and loved her from afar. Now they’re together again.
With love and beloved memories, your niece Meg

10 03 2010
Clair Stampfli

Molly and Nevada…..I took flying lessons starting in 1959 from you dad, and then you mother Mary gave me a check ride and I got my pilots licence in 1960.
You girls were small and played in your dads shop, with the cats that all the people from Susanville dropped off at the airport. Your mom was a great person and a super pilot. Clair Stampfli (Peggy Rose Shop)

10 03 2010
John Hepburn

I met Mary and Dave in 1960 when I became a student pilot. Dave was my first instructor. I took up skydiving in 1962, and Mary piloted the plane we jumped from. I moved to Chino in 1964. I took up training again and got my Commercial with an Instrument Rating and CFI. Years later I worked for the FAA at the Denver Air Traffic Control Center in Longmont, Colorado. It all started in Susanville at the sleepy little airport operated by Mary and Dave. I fondly remember the Barrs and am saddened to hear of Mary’s passing.

15 03 2010
Fred & Joan Zuehlke

Thanks Molly and Nevada for this privilege to remind you Mary will never be forgotten. Mary and I played violen together in orchestra in Susanville community orchestra. Our son[Lt Michael Zuehlke USMC] was taught flying by Mary while he was in high school and received his commission later in the Marines and flew the A4 Sky Hawk. I believe flying was both their living reward on earth. We had the opportunity to introduce our grandson, also Michael and his wife Whitney, to Mary several years ago. They are commercial pilots, who were fascinated with her career and accomplishments. The music stops, and yet it echoes on in sweet refrains.
For every joy that passes, something beautiful remains.

15 03 2010
Robin Burwell

Molly and Neva,

My sister, Cheryl Harper, forwarded news of Mary’s death. I remember Mary those years we lived in Susanville. My father, Roger, thought she was the best pilot and best person ever. He flew often with her on BLM fires and admired her talent. He enjoyed feisty, adventurous people. He was broken hearted when the BLM changed their contract with Mary. Eventually he was transferred to Washington DC and then to Spokane. He died in 1991. I remember our family talking about the times Mary flew in the Reno air races, and we thought she was awesome.

I have not been back to Susanville much but the last time I was there I wondered about the old airport. The area isn’t much changed, just the people.

I wish you both well.

Robin Burwell
Automotive Service Technology
Machine Manufacturing Technology
(503) 977-4130

15 03 2010
Kris Condos

I learned of Mary Barr passing’s thru an email sent to Region 3 employees by Carrie Levin. I am so moved to hear of her life and legacy. There are still not many women in the fire service, especially in aviation, and we all are thankful for those who have paved the way for us. Here’s to a generous woman doing what she loves.

16 03 2010
Dick Pfilf

I am saddened to learn of Mary’s passing. I was the forest supervisor of the Shasta-Trinity national forest when Mary came to the North Zone air unit in Redding. At the time I had responsibility for the air unit and had many opportunities to fly with Mary. I had flown fighters for the Air Force and Oregon air guard, and so had a background to evaluate pilots. My experience also included 4 forest service regions. I flew with pilots in all of them. My opinion was that Mary was the most professional one of them all. She also was very personable and fun to be around. I remember us taxing for take-off at Sacramento, and the control tower operator urged her to expedite her take-off as there was a commercial air liner behind. Mary told the operator in cool language that she would take the time necessary to do it right (or words to that effect). I thought it was fabulous!

My condolences to you and your family.

Dick Pfilf

16 03 2010
Bob Skeen

Early in my career in fire and aviation I listened to the stories Nevada told of her mom. Being a new private pilot at the time I remember listening in awe and a bit of envy to those stories. Now without so many years left in my career in fire and aviation I’m so proud to be part of the legacy that pioneers like Mary began. Though I never knew Mary, I knew of her and her extrodinary accomplishments. I will share the story of Mary’s life with my own daughter as a shining example of a life well lived.

16 03 2010

Again, so many wonderful comments and stories … and familiar names from my childhood. Thank you all! This week we received a beautiful certificate WITH GOLD SEAL from the board of supervisors of Lassen County “in memory of Mary Barr, former resident and longtime operator of the Susanville Airport.”

Way to go, Mom! And thank you, Lassen county for remembering her!


16 03 2010
Bill Cady

Dear Molly & Neva,
My brother Frank recently let me know about Mary so I wanted to say how much Mary influenced and impressed the folks in my family, and to pass on my best to you.
Dave & Mary were unique and really special – Mary flew my little brother to Reno on an emergency medical flight back in the early 60’s – she had to fly off the deck because of the low cloud cover – it was amazing – I was along for the ride and have never forgotten the experience.
We spent a lot of time at the airport and I remember that Dave really took to my brother’s mechanical abilities and let him hang in his shop – he helped my dad with his plane – Dad’s one and only passion in life was flying and I’m convinced that Mary’s and Dave’s support were crucial to Dad being able to live that dream – it allowed him to take trips to Baja (with Evan Chappuis and Clyde Deal) before there were roads down there, as well as just flying around the Susanville area, and even flying into busy Van Nuys back in the day.
As a kid I really enjoyed spending time at “your parents” airport – swimming in the water tank, shooting rabbits, driving the old car on the dirt runway and roads, exploring, prowling in hangers and helping dad and Evan with their planes. I think your mom cast a wary eye, but let us contiue being boys (I guess we didn’t cross the line!).
Dad and grandma really respected your folks, and grandma was impressed with Mary’s violin skills on top of her other abilities – I remember going to the Veteran’s Building to listen to Mary (and Ray Craig?) perform.
Then there were the skydiving years – Mary and Dave would drop guys from a mile up and they’d land on the dirt runway (hopefully!) Trips to the airport were always welcomed – Your parents were no-nonsense pilots and instructors – I was not one of their best students, not by far, but Mike Zuehlke, my friend from Susanville certainly was – Mary later really spoke highly of his piloting skills – Mike ended up flying for the Marine Corps.
I got to know Neva a little bit so was pleasantly surprised when my daughter, coincidentally, gave me one of Neva’s Anna Paquin mystery series books for my birthday – it was about firefighting and smokejumpers in Lassen Park –
I had a nice visit with Mary at Evan Chappuis’s 90th birthday at the airport where we talked about many things including her USFS lead plane job (Mary and I were both in Redding at the USFS airbase at the same time in 1977).
So, here’s wishing that the best of memories of Mary follow her family for a long time.

Sincerely, Bill Cady

22 03 2010
Cathryn Anita Smith

I remember eating tuna fish sandwiches on whole wheat bread with Molly and Neva as planes buzzed in and out of the airport. I also remember Mary’s mother when she came back from India and taught us all how to correctly fold layer a sari so it wouldn’t fall off.
Mary definitely inspired me to be adventurous. I loved hearing the stories of her exploits. And her wonderful, calm smile!

She is missed here on earth, but her spirit is in the air!

23 03 2010
Mike Moulton

Hello, In 1970 My friend and I would wash planes and pick up around the shop and your mom or dad would give a ride once in awhile. Now in my 50’s My 17 year old son is learning to fly and I had just told him of the fun we had at the airport hanging around the planes. Your MOM was always telling us to go for a goal and learn to fly. We did. I am so sorry to hear of her passing. But I feel happy at the thought of knowing your parents.

23 03 2010
Bill Munro

It was very sad to hear of Mary’s death – Jean and I regarded her as a very cherished friend. Although I had met Mary in 1975, it was not until she transferred to our Chief’s Office Aviation staff in about 1980 that I really got to know her. At the time, our main objective was to try to increase the level of professionalism in Forest Service Aviation. I soon learned that Mary brought to the job a great deal of enthusiasm, invaluable flying experience, writing skill and the ability to deal effectively with quite a few people who had made my teeth grind for years. The job was frustrating and progress was, to be charitable, disappointingly slow. But it didn’t faze Mary – she persevered and never became discouraged. She played a central role in some important projects: overhauling the directives system to improve standardization, improving and lending credibility to the accident investigation process and pioneering an automated aircraft use reporting system. These efforts, and others, required extensive dealings with other Washington Office staffs, regions and other agencies. Mary was surprisingly adept at working with practically everybody. I believed that Mary had more than earned it when she was selected as the Regional Aviation Officer for the California Region.
Jean and I had visited Mary and Dave in Virginia, and later after we both retired, in Janesville every chance we had. She was a wonderful and talented lady, and we’re glad we had the opportunity to know her.

6 04 2010
Darryl & Marsha Gardner

Sorry to hear of the loss of your Mother. Mary was quite a lady and pilot. We both met and knew her from the Susanville airport, and from our new interest in flying back in 1997. I just recently saw an article in our local paper here in Lake Havasu City about another WWII female pilot that was honored and thought of Mary, and all her accomplishments.
May you be comforted by the knowledge that you will see her again someday, as reminded by the Easter holiday just observed, and all your great memories.

7 04 2010
Linda Chism

To the Barr Family,
Please accept my condolences on Mary Barr’s passing. I am connected to your family as the current owner of David and Mary’s 1954 Super Cub, N111DB. I know this because I was contacted out of the blue a couple of years ago by Dave’s son Donald who had looked it up in the FAA registration records. I then had a wonderful time hearing about Susanville, and the younger Barr sisters, and how the Cub was used at the FBO. I even got some old photos of the plane back when it was much newer !
Thank you for sharing the stories of your family and hearing especially of Mary Barr’s accomplisments as a pilot and woman. I am sorry I never got to meet Mrs. Barr. Last summer I met by chance some Susanville pilots who were up here in the Northwest (Larry Beck was one of them.) I look forward to flying N111DB back to Susanville to visit, hopefully this summer.

Again, my condolences. Her airplane flies on though… I treasure it and its special connection to a unique person.

With my thoughts,
Linda Chism
Seattle, Washington

9 04 2010

Linda, you sure brought back some memories. I’m Mary’s oldest daughter. I’ve logged many hours in 111DB ! This would have been in the ’70’s when I was about 18 – 22 (in college). I towed gliders in it during the summers for my parents, flying it south of Susanville every morning to a dry lake bed just north of Reno, tow gliders all day, then flying it back. I also towed gliders with it out of Minden for a glider competition. My parent allowed me to take it to college with me! Can you imagine that? … flying it down to San Luis Obispo where I attended Cal Poly. I’m now in my 60’s and haven’t flown for many years (medically retired from USAirways). I haven’t thought about all of that for many years. Now, both of my parents are gone, but what a legacy!

Thank you for for taking ‘our’ little Supercub right on into the future.

27 04 2010
Dan & Lana Forster

Dear Molly and Nevada,

We don’t have to tell you how special your Mom was; all that she accomplished tells everyone that and all that knew her enjoyed her love of life and sense of humor.

My husband, Dan, flew with your Mom as AIRCO for CDF for 8 years, she and I shared a love of siamese (my male your Mom’s femaile) and your grandmother. I worked at the PO in Janesville and your grandmother, Margaret, would drive over in her Toyota and have lunch with me. We had many great dinners with your Mom and Dad and your grandmother was the most militant quaker I have ever met. What a character.

Your books are great Nevada and your Mom was so proud of both of you.
What a role model your Mom was for both of you, if you want something bad enough you can make it happen. She gave women a true leg up in the aero industry.

Our best to your both,

Dan and Lana Forster

31 05 2010

molly and neva,

sorry about mary, she and dave were an important part of my flying life.

i first met mary as a cdf assistant ranger when i was sent to the susanville airport to fly a lightning patrol. when i arrived at the airport dave sent me across the highway to get her. she was driving a farm caterpillar tractor plowing a field in a cloud of dust. she brushed herself off, preflighted the cessna and said lets go. that was my introduction to mary. (farm tractor to airplane without a pause) a first of many official flights for cdf with both mary and dave.

around 1965 a group of us in susanville formed a flying club, bought a c150 and learned to fly. dave maintained our club plane. he was my first instructor. he got me ready for my checkride and mary was the designee who passed me for my private and later for my commercial, multi-engiine, instrument and flight instructor. along the way mary and dave hired me to fly charter trips if they were busy. i was especially honored to fly to red bluff to pick up you girls to bring you home from school. mary would never have allowed that trip unless she trusted me.

in 1972, when my cdf career took me from susanville to sacramento headquarters my ratings gained with mary and dave made it possible for me to eventually promote to chief of cdf aviation, in charge of the state’s aerial firefighting efforts.

along the way I occasionally ran into mary at interagency meetings, thus, was able to keep up with her family doings. we always talked about you girls and, molly, I was impressed by your earning an engineering degree and your career in aviation. neva’s college and later her writing was a delight to mary.

dave’s pride in mary colored everything he did. he told many stories about her as we flew patrol. one, how as a young pilot, she flew a piper cub backward the full length of the runway in a high wind just to see if it could be done. on another occasion she was flying to pick up a passenger at another airport. knowing she was alone in the airplane she was startled to feel a tap on her shoulder. after her heart slowed down she discovered one of the airport cats had joined her unbeknownst, (they liked to sleep in the planes if the door was open) woke up, jumped up on the seatback and decided to get her attention.

l retired from cdf in1986 after 39 years. I then worked for contractors flying airtankers and air attack from 1987 until 2009.

the mountain flying and safe flying techniques taught by both mary and dave at susanville airport were especially valuable in my later fire flying. dave would always advise me not to make an intersection takeoff. he said the runway behind you will do you no good.

i credit mary and dave, in a large part, for my successful aviation career. their professional approach to flying, their honesty and integrity in life were inspiring.

16 02 2013
Mellie Coriell

I was sorry to read of Mary’s passing although I’ve never met her. What a woman! It’s clear she led the way for many women who have come after to do what women hadn’t done before. (My friend Kay Chaffey who taught at Humboldt State University when I did and who’s now 90 or 91 was also a role model for women pilots. She was one of the few Women Air Force Service Pilots during WW II. What spirit!)

I’ve been wanting to add Mary Barr to our list of women firsts and other firsts in the Forest Service FAM and I just did. For the most part our simple wildlandfire.com IMWTK list (Inquiring Minds Want to Know) is about women in wildland fire. Mary has got to be on it. I have no doubt that Mary, at some time or other, piloted someone who was scouting for fire. There had been a post about her passing on 3/3/2010 “They Said It” forum.

Thanks so much for making this memorial page for Mary. One of the joys of the internet is that our pioneers can be memorialized in a new way.

16 02 2013

Thank you so much. Yes, my mother piloted people scouting for fires as well as flew lead plane many times in fighting fires for many many years. She definitely has a place on your list.

Thanks again.

Molly Barr (Mary’s eldest daughter)

30 07 2013
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