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"It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things."

Elinor Smith
early aviatrix



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Pamela O'Brien

Pamela Rae Azar O'Brien was the daughter of Raymond Joseph Azar of Lebanese descent (born in ST. Louis, MO), and Patricia Hazel Todd of Irish, German and perhaps a touch of Native American descent (born in Scotts Hill, TN). Pamela was the youngest of three daughters, born October 13, 1949 in St. Louis. MO (13 was always her favorite number). Her oldest sister Mary Ann (now deceased) was uncommonly beautiful in an Audrey Hepburn sort of way - and for example, was the Homecoming Queen at the University of Missouri in 1962. Pam's next older sister Barbara worked on her PhD in Spanish and became the owner of a travel agency. Hazel (mom) was a pistol - and the fights she had with Barbara were legendary in the family. One day she came after Barb with a kitchen knife, repeatedly stabbing the bathroom door behind which Barb was cowering. The stab marks were still there 30+ years later. Pam's father was very kind and highly intelligent. He worked at Curtis-Wright in WWII, and after the war started Valco - a metal furniture manufacturer - with a plant in downtown St. Louis. He designed and built the machines that made the furniture. You can still see many of their model furniture in old movies from the 40s and 50s. He also was part of an ad hoc consortium of friends who designed children's toys for fun and profit. As a family they worked on photography for the catalogs, and often went to the World's Fairs for ideas and fun. Pam was the calm almost forgotten sister - who sat with her father listening to opera in the basement. Who learned quietly to sew and cook. Who loved art - and any kind of craft. She was quiet but popular in school - was the Treasurer of her class in the HS graduating class in 1967 at Lindbergh High School in suburban St. Louis, MO. The big song then was RESPECT by Aretha Franklin.

In her high school years Pam modeled for several fashion stores and magazines. She loved to work in the office of the furniture plant with her father in the summers. Pam was the captain of the girl's high school basketball team. She and a handful of other girls were arrested by the police one night for running around like crazy women, TP-ing a rivals house, drinking beer, and generally raising hell. Hazel was pretty cool about the whole thing, but Pam was grounded for perhaps a month. Hazel took in "Anita" Pam's friend that night - so that her father would not find out - as he had a reputation for physical abuse. She graduated from the University of Missouri in 1971 with a Bachelor of Science degree. Initially, she worked as a buyer for Adler's, an old Kansas City high end women's shop traveling to New York and Los Angeles on buying excursions. She married her husband Dale in 1974, and moved not long thereafter to California with two year interlude in Copenhagen, Denmark from 1979 until 1981. On return to California, she functioned as a manager for several clinics in medically underserved areas. Later she founded Razar Resources, a firm that dealt mainly in natural gas leaseholds and overriding royalty interests. For the past dozen years she has been the co-principal of the nonprofit Cancer Patients Alliance. It was during this time she handily picked up extensive computer and IT skills, graphics and bookkeeping - as well as continuing her various crafts such as design, photography, macrame, cooking, sewing, etc. And, if all that is not enough, Pam became the proud mother to her greatest creation in 2000 - twin boys, Neal and Raymond. She loved them with all her heart.

Pam began flying lessons in the 1980s, and eventually became instrument rated. She owned two planes - a Piper Dakota and a Beechcraft Bonanza. For the past twenty-five years she has been very active in the Ninety-Nines. She held positions in the organization from the chapter level through international. But, she was single-minded about bringing The Ninety-Nines into the digital age. She founded The Ninety-Nines website and functioned as its webmaster for many years. She also was the long-serving moderator of The Ninety-Nines listserv discussion group. Her contributions in this area definitely showed the world that women are a strong and positive factor in aviation. Pam received the prestigious President's Award from The Ninety-Nines in 2003 for her contributions to the organization. Pam was one of those special people who are a gift to all who know them. She was quietly supportive, never demanding to be in the limelight, fun-loving, offbeat, funny - a true renaissance woman. Never the person to say something couldn't be done, Pam's usual response was, "How can we do that?" And, then she would proceed to do just "that", whatever "that" was. Pam was seen by her friends as lovely, mature, vital, fun-loving, offbeat, and funny. She collected cookbooks, Air Babies books, purses from the roaring 20s, the history of women in aviation memorabilia, sewing paraphernalia, Danish design, recipes, and friends. On her sixteenth birthday, she successfully made Baked Alaska for her boyfriend who would later become her husband. She always read the ending of a book first. She loved desserts - and chocolate. And her boys.

Pamela O'Brien passed away peacefully at home surrounded by family and friends on May 4, 2012 at the age of 62 after a long battle with breast cancer. She is survived by husband Dale O'Brien and sons Neal and Raymond O'Brien of Pacific Grove, California; her beloved sister and brother-in-law Barbara and Tony Davis of Columbia, Missouri; her aunt Minnie Todd of St. Louis, Missouri; and many in-laws, cousins, nieces, nephews, relatives, and friends. She is predeceased by her parents, Raymond and Hazel Azar of St. Louis; by her brother-in-law Neal O'Brien of Oregon House, California: and by her sister, Mary Ann Allison, of Clarksville, Missouri. She will be posthumously inducted into the International Forest of Friendship in Atchison, Kansas in the summer of 2012, an honor memorial to those who have made a mark in the history of aviation and aerospace.

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