Elinore Owen Pyle
Elinore Owen Pyle, age 90, of Merrill, peacefully passed away on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013.
She was born on Dec. 13, 1922 to Carolyn and Wooster “Beach” Owen in McAlester, OK.
Her husband William Pyle preceded her in death on Jan. 9, 2006. Elinore was also preceded in death by two sisters, Dorothy (Glenn) Blood and Margaret Estelle Owen, who died in infancy.
The Pyles’ daughters, Judi Liebers and Barbara Philleo, live in Merrill and Wausau, respectively. Elinore is also survived by her seven grandchildren: Angela (Art) Lersch, Merrill; Robert (Olga) Ricci, Milwaukee; Paul Philleo, CA; Peter (Erin) Philleo, FL; Matthew (Leah) Philleo, Eau Claire; Rebecca (Jason) Sparks, Wisconsin Rapids; and Michael (Randi) Philleo, ND. Elinore is also survived by seven great-grandchildren.
As a young girl growing up in Oklahoma, Elinore attended the State Fair and was swept away by an aviatrix who performed aerobatics. She decided right then and there that she, too, would master the art of flying. Little did she know that this would take her to new heights – that of serving her country.
After high school, she had the opportunity to attend a local college, but that wasn’t for Elinore. Much to her parents’ dismay, Elinore had her heart set on flying school, so her father told her that she could, but that she’d have to pay her own way. That suited Elinore just fine and she went on to become the first female checker for the Safeway supermarket in Kansas City, MO, then went to flight control school with the money she earned. She applied for WASP, the Women’s Auxiliary Service Pilots. She was now a member of a group called the Flygirls.
Elinore logged hundreds of hours while testing planes brought in for repairs as well as breaking in engines on planes. Although her duties were non-combat in nature, there was always an element of danger in flying.
Elinore met the love of her life, a P38 pilot by the name of William Pyle, during her service in WASP. They shared a mutual love of flying and even in recent years involved themselves in talking technical jargon about engines, torque and other aspects of flying. Elinore’s flying career ended with the advent of her marriage and, later, children. She had achieved her coveted goal of being a pilot and now it was time to move on to other things.
In 1957, Elinore and her husband and two daughters moved from New Jersey to Merrill. Ellie and Bill, as they came to be known by friends and neighbors, started an archery business, Staghorn Archery. She later became an insurance claims representative for Wausau Insurance for about 10 years. After retirement, Elinore spent her time gardening and pursuing an interest in studying health. She also loved making sourdough bread and enjoyed experimenting with recipes. An excellent seamstress, Elinore also made clothing for loved ones. Elinore attended The Living Church of God in Merrill.
A funeral service was held on Monday, Sept. 16 at Waid Funeral Home in Merrill, with Deacon Stevens officiating. The burial was at The Snow Hill Cemetery. Arrangements are being handled by Waid Funeral Home. Online condolences can be made at www.waidfuneral.com.
When Elinore’s mother came to realize her daughter’s great interest in flying she was inspired to write the following poem to her daughter: