Ethel Meyer Finley, WASP class of 43-W-5, passed away Feb. 24 at her daughter’s home in New Jersey. She was 85.
Born and raised in Lake City, Minn., she graduated from high school in 1937, then went on to Winona State Teacher College where she earned degrees in science, mathematics and physical education. She was the first woman at the school to take part in the Civilian Pilot Training program. She liked it so much that, while supporting herself as a teacher, she swapped time running the Link trainer to pay for more flying lessons.
She joined the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) in 1943. She became an instructor pilot, logging more than 1,000 hours of flying before the WASP were disbanded in 1944.
During her military career she met James Finley. They were married in December 1944.
She left aviation to raise her family. She was active in the betterment of her community and started halfway houses for women recovering from substance abuse.
In her later years she again became active with the WASP and facilitated their guest appearances at air shows, fly-ins and conventions.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the WASP Endowment Fund, Texas Women’s University, P.O. Box 425528, Denton, Texas, 76204.