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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Marguerite Lawrence, aviation enthusiast, dies

BY MOLLY MCMILLIN
The Wichita Eagle

Marguerite Lawrence was a "free-spirited" woman dedicated to her family, friends, faith and aviation.

Mrs. Lawrence died Tuesday. She was 93.

Mrs. Lawrence was a familiar face in the aviation community. Until her 90th birthday, she volunteered at the Experimental Aircraft Association's annual AirVenture Oshkosh, selling tickets by day and camping in a pup tent at night.

"She refused to stay in a hotel," said her son, Stan Lawrence. She would say, "'Why would I want that? I'm with my friends. I'm exactly where I want.' "

The family celebrated her 90th birthday at the event.

Mrs. Lawrence was a long-time volunteer at the Kansas Aviation Museum, served on the national board of the OX5 organization and was an active member of the Kansas chapter of the Ninety-Nines, an organization of female pilots.

"She was very supportive and always encouraged our members to work at their flying and to get additional training or ratings or proceed as far as they would like to go," said pilot Kay Alley, who serves as treasurer of the chapter.

Mrs. Lawrence soloed in 1937 at the age of 21. She earned her pilot's certificate three years later.

In the process, she fell in love with her flight instructor, Gene. They were married nearly 50 years at the time of Mr. Lawrence's death in 1986.

In the early years, Mrs. Lawrence helped her husband with the fixed-based operation he ran in southern Nebraska. She also was a charter pilot and ferried airplanes.

"She was a great mom," Stan Lawrence said. "She was firm and fair and always ready for the next adventure."

Visitation with the family will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Sunday at Downing & Lahey Mortuary East. A service will be at 1 p.m. Monday at Countryside Christian Church, 1919 S. Rock Road.

Tributes may be sent to the family at www.dlwichita.com.

Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com.

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