Eunice Standish Oates (1911-1981) was a WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilot) during WWII. When we honored the WASP from Rhode Island back in 2006, there was little information we could find about Eunice, the first Rhode Islander to join the WASP initiative. We were unable to track down her family, and learned very little about her background.
Eunice’s listed home of record upon entering the service was Providence. She graduated with WASP class 43-4 and was later stationed at Newcastle Army Air Base in Wilmington, DE, where she flew with the 2nd Ferrying Group.
Thanks to the geometric increase in information available on the internet, and the growth of genealogy websites, we have since been able to learn more of Eunice’s story and track down several of her family members. The key to her story was to learn that Oates was her married name; she was brought up in Rhode Island as a Standish. It turns out that she is a direct descendant of Myles Standish of Mayflower and Plymouth Colony fame. Her father was ninth in descent from Captain Standish through the leader’s third son, Josiah.
For many years her father and other family members ran powerful advertising companies, including Standish-Barnes, which dominate local billboard advertising for decades. Eunice was an accomplished singer who studied at Vassar’s College of music, and she spent most of her post war years teaching piano and singing in Memphis. She died there August 3, 1981.
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- The Allen Family of Aeronauts
The Allen Family of Aeronauts: according to New York-based aeronautical researcher Chris Lynch, “If there was a founding family of RI aviation, they are it.”
- Mary Ann Lippitt
Mary Ann Lippitt (1918-2006) was a descendant of an old and influential Rhode Island family that was very active in Rhode Island business and politics. In 1944 she learned to fly during a visit to Virginia, and was soon a skilled aviatrix. She worked as a flying instructor in Virginia and served in the US air postal service before returning to Rhode Island. She was one of about a dozen women pilots in the state.
- Martha McSally
Retired Air Force Colonel Martha McSally hails from Warwick, and a Distinguished Graduate of the US Air Force Academy who became the first US female fighter pilot to fly combat missions, and the first woman to command an American fighter squadron.