Mary "Teresa" CecilOctober 7, 1920 ~ June 11, 2017 (age 96)
Mary “Teresa” Cecil, 96, died on Sunday, June 11, 2017 at Windsor Gardens Continuing Care Community.
Ms. Cecil, born in Bardstown October 7, 1920, was a pioneering career woman and the first female licensed pilot in Nelson County. She was a member of The Ninety-Nines, an international organization of women pilots, and flew her own single-engine Aeronca Chief.
That plane, bought in 1947 for $2,675, became part of local crime lore when it blew up at the Bardstown Airport after only a few hours logged in the sky. It was reportedly dynamited.
Ms. Cecil heard the blast from her home a few miles away and “went numb” when she learned the uninsured plane was destroyed, she later told a reporter from the Kentucky Standard. Only a small section of the plane’s tail section survived the explosion, which also damaged several other crafts and the hangar.
Investigators didn’t solve the case, but Ms. Cecil never lost her life-long passion for flying, subsequently piloting planes in Kentucky and Indiana for many years.
Starting her professional career just out of high school at Bethlehem Academy, Ms. Cecil worked in accounting at the old Willett Distilling Co. for two decades before reinventing herself as an educator, returning to school and graduating from Bellarmine-Ursuline College in Louisville. She also earned two master’s degrees from Indiana State University.
She became a member of the National Teacher Corp., a national program that worked to improve education in inner cities and low-income areas. She was a staff instructor at Lew Wallace High School in Gary, Ind., where she worked for 20-plus years, enriching thousands of lives as a special education teacher.
Ms. Cecil was the second of eight children of the late Mary Elizabeth Thompson Cecil and Lavielle Cecil.
She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, an ambassador for Maker’s Mark Distillery and a Kentucky Colonel. After her retirement to Nazareth in Bardstown, she dove into her family’s genealogy, traveling to Ireland and the U.K. to do research on the Cecils and the Thompsons.
She was a member of the Bullitt County Genealogical Society and the Nelson County Genealogy Workshop. She also took up watercolor painting, favoring landscapes and pastels. She was a member of St. Vincent Church at Nazareth, Ky.
She is survived by her sister, Margaret “Peggy” Stanley, her brother George Cecil, and many loving nieces, nephews and extended family.
A memorial service will be held at a later date.
Contributions in her name may be made to St. Jude Children’s Hospital and Wounded Warriors.