Ms. Mayes was born in Newberry, South Carolina, on January 2, 1921, to John Bernard Mayes, Sr. and Agnes Summer Mayes. She grew up in Newberry and attended the Newberry schools. She graduated from Winthrop College in 1942.
Following graduation, Ms. Mayes taught school for a year before being accepted into the WASP program. She also spent thirty-five years working for General Electric retiring in 1982. She was member of Myers Park Presbyterian Church in Charlotte.
Ms. Mayes was a veteran of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP), WWII; receiving her Pilots Wings on December 7, 1944. Her class of 44-W-10 was the last class of the WASP program, and is often referred to as “The Lost Class”.
She was influenced to join the WASP by her brother, John, who was killed when his B-17 was shot down over North Africa early in WWII. Planes that she flew included the AT-6, PT-17, BT-13, and PT-19. Ms. Mayes and her fellow WASPs received the Congressional Gold Medal on March 9, 2010.
Ms. Mayes served in the United Sates Air Force Reserves from 1948-1978 and was the only woman in her unit. She retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.
Following her service with the WASP, Ms. Mayes joined the Red Cross and served in the Philippines and then Japan with Pacific Air Command United States Army (PACUSA).
Throughout her career, Ms. Mayes was a charter member of the Women Military Pilots Association, now known as Women Military Aviators, Inc. She was also a member of The Ninety-Nines, Inc., and the International Organization of Women Pilots. Images of the WASP mascot, Fifinella, could be found in almost every room of her home.
Ms. Mayes is survived by her sister, Mrs. Agnes Mayes Lippitt, two nieces: Nancy Lippitt (Kathryn) Hood and Elizabeth Ann (Betsy) Lippitt and two nephews: Edward Stafford Lippitt, Jr. and John Mayes Lippitt. She is also survived by many great nieces and nephews and their families.
She was predeceased by her parents, John Bernard and Agnes Mayes, Sr., and her brother John Bernard Mayes, Jr.
Visitation will be held from 1:00 until 2:00 pm Saturday, February 13, 2016 at Whitaker Funeral Home, Newberry, SC. This will be followed by a graveside funeral service at 2:30 pm in Rosemont Cemetery, Newberry, SC. The service will be conducted by the Rev. Tresco Shannon.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the National WASP World War II Museum, (waspmuseum.org.)
Whitaker Funeral Home, Newberry, SC is assisting the family. Visitation and graveside service will be held February 13, 2016 in Newberry, SC.