WASP Ruth Roberts

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WASP Ruth Roberts

Death: March 10, 2006 (90)
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Horace Wills Roberts and Margaret Roberts

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About WASP Ruth Roberts

Ruth was one of the early graduates of the WASP program, in the

’43-W-6’ class of 84 graduates on October 9, 1943. More than 25,000 women applied to the WASP
program which had pre-requisites of a private pilot certificate and 500 flight hours. Only 1830 women
were accepted into WASP training and 1074 women graduated.

So, who was Ruth Roberts? Ruth was born in Mankato in 1915. Her dad was an attorney. As a young
man he served in the 13th Minnesota Infantry during the 1898-99 Philippines combat. Her grandfather
was an officer in a New York regiment during the Civil War. Ruth enjoyed sports and played basketball
while at Mankato High School. By 1940, at age 24, Ruth had earned an undergraduate degree. She was
working full time as a ‘retail store auditor or clerk’ according to the 1940 census.

We don’t know details of Ruth’s initial pilot training but know she earned her private pilot license in
April 1942 and flew the required hours before applying to the WASP program. Ruth completed WASP
training at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, TX, graduating on October 9, 1943.

In 1943-44 she flew 3 different aircraft that we know of – PT-17, BT-13 and the AT-6. She served at two
Army Air Bases, Romulus in Michigan and Cochran in Macon, Georgia. We believe she ferried planes
and flew cargo flights from those bases.

While stationed at Romulus, Ruth was ordered to attend Officer Training School (OTS) in Orlando during
which time she felt compelled to write a letter to the editor of Time magazine regarding inaccuracies in
an article on women pilots. The article titled “Battle of the Sexes” stated WASP members were being
sent to OTS before Congress had approved the funds and also stated women pilots were grounded
several days out of every month due to menstruation. In her letter Ruth wrote “very few women have
ever found it necessary to be grounded because of any affliction peculiar to their sex.”

When the WASP program was discontinued in 1944, Ruth came back to Minnesota and earned a Ph.D. in
Psychology with a focus on linguistics from the U of M. She was a counselor in the Student Counseling
Bureau working primarily with foreign students and students who had difficulty reading. She retired as
an Associate Professor in 1980 after 32 years. Ruth was described by friends as a strong, independent
woman who actively supported nature and the arts with her activities and resources. She was an
outdoor enthusiast who enjoyed her cabin on Lake Saganaga at the end of the Gunflint Trail where she
spent summers canoeing, hiking and birding.


Ruth passed away on March 10, 2006 and is laid to rest at Lakewood Cemetery, Minneapolis. In 2010
she was awarded posthumously the Congressional Gold Medal. Ruth was a dedicated and successful
pilot who helped pave the way for future women pilots.

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WASP Ruth Roberts's Timeline

June 8, 1915
March 10, 2006
Age 90