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Jayne Pace ’43

Butterflies are Free

By Donna Parker

Jayne Pace

Jayne Pace, who attended Trinity in 1940, just turned 88, but after spending a few minutes talking with her, you realize that number would never keep her down.

Jayne left school to fly surveillance planes for the Civil Air Patrol, seeking out enemy submarines during World War II.

“I flew these surveillance missions over the Gulf of Mexico in a Piper Cub, flying very low over the water so we could spot the Japanese subs,” says Jayne.

“It was all very exciting, but back then, if girls went into the service, it was more or less because they couldn’t do anything else,” she laughs.

“We didn’t care though.  There were three of us ladies in the Civil Air Patrol and we just did our own thing.  We checked our own oil and gas and even packed our own parachutes.  That was okay—it was better than the guys doing it!”

Plus, Jayne says it was a lot more fun that working in a meat packing plant, which she did while still a student at Trinity in Waxahachie.

“I did bookkeeping and occasionally, had to go back into the meat plant.  It was enough to get me off hamburgers for life,” she jokes.

Jayne’s love of flying began when she was just a little girl in the 1920s—long before air travel became part of the American cultural experience.  When Jayne walked to school by herself down a dusty, country road, she was a little bit scared.  So, to take her mind off that fear, she focused on the beautiful, free butterflies. 

“I was fascinated by them,” remembers Jayne.  “I remember thinking to myself, ‘If I could just fly like them, I could be free!’”

So, when Jayne and her fellow Civil Air patrollers sought out subs near a prisoner of war camp located in New Orleans, she had the chance to pilot that Piper over the warm waters of the Gulf.

“I just felt free!  It was a fantastic sensation to be in a small aircraft, free as a bird.  It was absolutely marvelous and awesome.  I have no idea how anybody who’s never experienced flying could understand how freeing it really is.”

Jayne still maintains her Civil Air Patrol ties.  Every Tuesday night, she and a friend attend the Texas 179th Thunderbird Composite Squadron meetings and offer their expertise to the 90 or so young cadets.

“Those young people are so well-mannered.  They learn about search and rescue and how to fly.  It’s such a pleasure to interact with the young cadets.”

“I like to tell the younger ones stories about when I was young,” says Jayne.  “Part of that includes my time at Trinity.”

“I’ve always loved my alma mater and think fondly about working for Professor Fredrick Isely, department of biology, in the National Youth Administration.  I was supposed to do secretarial work, but actually ended up writing some of his papers,” she laughs.

“College was a fun time and I enjoyed every minute of it.”

Following college, Jayne, who worked for Pan American Airline, won an international sales contest, and eventually went back to school and earned her real estate license. 

“I also earned a living modeling for Neiman Marcus in Houston; mostly, hats and furs.”

“I have done a lot in my lifetime, but I always think about the flying.  My motto has always been, ‘God does not deduct from man’s allotted time, the hours spent in flying.’”

You may contact Jayne at greatpace@aol.com.


After reading this story if you feel strongly about any Trinity alumni who the Alumni Office should profile in future AlumNet issues, please submit your suggestions.  We are looking for suggestions in these four categories:  1) recent grads, 2) grads who innovate, 3) grads in business, and 4) grads who serve the world. Feel free to nominate yourself if you fall in these categories. -- AlumNet Moderator