Sylvia B. Barter
WASP Class 43-W-7
Planes flown: BT-14, AT-6, UC-78
Assigned bases: Douglas Army Air Base (Ariz.)
“Barnstorming pilots would land in my father’s fields and take us on exciting rides. Belted into an open cockpit, I knew one day I’d be a pilot.” Sylvia B. Barter, WASP
A lovely tribute written by Sylvia’s children:
To Our Beloved Mom, Sylvia Barter
Do not mourn for me but allow the precious memories
we shared together to brighten your days and bring smiles to your face.
Please celebrate my life with my children and me and
know that I am free.
Our Mom Sylvia was born in Solvang, California on January 23, 1920. She was the second daughter born to Anker and Esther Bredall and was graciously received by her sister Rosalie. Her brother Buddy joined the family a few years later. Mom used to laugh when telling the story about her and Rosalie were not happy with a new baby brother as they had requested a baby sister. She often shared stories about her beautiful childhood memories, running and playing in fields covered with wildflowers.
After high school Mom attended Merrit Business College in Oakland and in 1939 accepted a job in Salinas. Her husband to be, and later our Dad, Gene worked upstairs in a different office. They were engaged in February 1940. During their engagement they both enrolled in a private pilot training course where they proudly accepted their pilots licenses on September 14, 1940. Two weeks later they exchanged marriage vows on September 28, 1940.
When WWII was declared, our courageous Mom joined the Women Airforce Service Pilots, also known as the WASP. She was one of very few women offered this opportunity and couldn’t get to her assigned airfield in Douglas Arizona fast enough. Once there, she had many piloting duties including transporting military personnel from one airbase to another. This part of Mom’s life was very special and exciting and she continued to be involved in the WASP organization until just a few years ago. Her passion for flying instigated her membership in the local Womans’ Pilot Club, the 99’s. We are so proud to have the bragging rights that this honorable woman was our Mom.
In 1945 a whole new chapter unfolded for Mom. In 1945, Elise was born, followed by Andy in 1946. In 1947 the twins Kathy and Krissy arrived. All four under the age of 3. We teased her often about her method of birth control and she would always smile proudly and proclaim it was planned parenthood. We are sure that her calm demeanor and patience was attributed to her career-oriented life rather than a stay-at-home-Mom. As we grew up and had children of our own, our respect for her choice was fully understood.
Our Mom loved her family more than anything. Even after 4 children, 10 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren she knew all their ages and birth dates. This beautiful woman has left a legacy unequaled to any. Her kind hearted, generous, loving and caring personality was always present. Over the years she developed many dear friendships and had acquaintances all over the United States. At Christmas time it would take her days to write her cards as she remembered everybody and didn’t leave anyone off her list.
Enjoy Sylvia’s online interview at scholastic.com