Mildred Evelyn Eckert Carder, 94, died peacefully in her sleep on November 25, 2015, at Patriots Colony in Williamsburg, Virginia.
Born July 31, 1921, in Mason, Texas, she is predeceased by her parents, Kinney Milton and Zilla Minnie (Wood) Eckert of Mason, Texas, and her husband, John Thomas Carder of Johnson City, Tennessee.
Survivors include her two sons, Patrick Carder (Sandra) of Williamsburg, Virginia, and Kinney Carder (Virginia) of Leesburg, Georgia. She is also survived by three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren: Charles Jonathan Carder (Joy) and children Olivia Grace and Charles Jonathan, Jr. (Jack) of Williamsburg, Virginia; John Clinton Carder (Margie) and children John Griffin and Talley Grace of Leesburg, Georgia; and Courtney Leigh Carder Paulson (Dan) and children Makenna Elise and Connor Daniel of Leesburg, Georgia.
Included among her much-loved Texas family are her sister Carolyn Eckert Smith and nephews Terry Smith and Ted Smith (Jane) of Mason; cousins Deann Gregg and Joan Whitaker of Mason; Cleo Marie (Cissy) Fuller of Austin; Ruthelma (Rudy) Shepherd (Corbin) of Kerrville; Sybil Judge of San Antonio; and Marcy Dunn (Neil) of Center Point.
In 1942, Mildred graduated from the University of Texas where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree. While in college she obtained her private pilot's license which led to a position as a Link trainer instructor (simulated instrument flying in ground trainers) at the Naval Air Station in Corpus Christi. When the WASP (Women's Air Force Service Pilots) program was begun, Mildred applied. Out of the thousands of women who applied, Mildred was among the handful selected. She completed the program at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas in 1944 and was awarded her wings and served as a service pilot in the Ferry Command of the Army in Stuttgart, Arkansas. Sixty-five years later, on March 10, 2010, along with nearly 200 of her sister pilots, Mildred was honored at a ceremony at the nation's Capitol where she was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal in recognition for her service as a civilian pilot for the Army Air Forces during World War II.
In 1945, Mildred married John Thomas Carder whom she met while stationed in Arkansas. They lived in Bermuda, Washington D.C., Germany, Texas, and Oklahoma. When John retired from the Air Force, the family returned to his home state of Tennessee. In Jonesborough, Mildred taught elementary school, earned a Master of Arts degree from East Tennessee State University, and helped manage the family dairy farm. She retired from teaching in 1986. Following the death of her husband (1990), she moved to Williamsburg, Virginia in 1997.
Mildred was a member of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International; Phi Delta Kappa educational fraternity; Alpha Omicron Pi sorority; the Order of Daedalians, an association of military pilots; and the Williamsburg United Methodist Church. She loved to travel and read, never losing her enthusiasm for adventure and learning. Proud of her German heritage and beloved Texas hill country, Mildred continued to visit her home and family in Mason as long as her health permitted.
A celebration of Mildred's life was held at Patriots Colony Retirement Community in Williamsburg, Virginia, on Thursday, December 4, 2015. Interment will be at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, December 21, 2015, at Mountain Home Veterans Cemetery in Johnson City, Tennessee.
In lieu of flowers the family requests that memorials may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project (woundedwarriorproject.org). Online condolences may be offered at www.nelsencares.com