July 19, 2012
Tex Amanda (Brown) Meachem took off on her final flight on July 5, 2012, in the care of Vitas Hospice of Florida at John Knox Village, in Pompano Beach, Florida. She was 94 years old.
Tex Amanda Brown, named after her grandmothers, “Texanna” and “Amanda,” was born in Tallahassee, Florida on Feb. 4, 1918. A few months later, the young family moved to Winter Garden, where Tex completed all her schooling, graduating as the Salutatorian from Lakeview High School.
After losing her father to a heart attack when she was 16, Tex changed her college plans to be close to home, entering Florida State Collage for Women in Winter Garden. She majored in Education and worked at the State of Florida Department of Education. She graduated with her degree and a teaching certificate and went to work full time for the State Department of Education.
In 1939, she was hired by the Dean of the Business Administration College at University of Florida. While working for the Dean, Tex signed up for the CPT program and learned to fly in order to cut her two hour travel time to the beach. Soon after joining a flying club and getting her license, she volunteered to do the books for the Civil Air Patrol in exchange for flying time. Tex spent a year in Sarasota, Florida, flying active duty, looking for submarines in the Gulf of Mexico.
While flying with the CAP, Tex learned of the experimental women’s flying training program. She applied and was accepted into the class of 43-7 along with 101 other young women pilots. She paid her way to Avenger Field to join the training program. Only 59 of the women graduated, earning their silver wings on Nov. 13, 1943.
Tex was sent to the Training Command—Navigation School at Hondo, Texas. There, her mission included flying C-45’s with navigation students plotting the courses and flying co-pilot on C-60’s. While at Hondo, Tex fell in love with navigation instructor, John Meachem. As she described their courtship: "We danced a thousand miles to 'Begin the Beguine'."
After five months at Hondo, she was transferred to the ferry command. She traveled to Wilmington, Delaware, where she was kept busy, ferrying trainers to bases all over the US as well as flying salvage flights with war weary Piper Cubs.
After months of non-stop ferrying, Tex gave up flying to marry John Meachem, the man she described as 'the love of her life, on July 14, 1944. After the war, they settled in Manilus, New York where their growing family eventually included three daughters. Once her third daughter started school, Tex enrolled in Syracuse University, where she earned a Masters in Library Science. After graduating, she worked as a high school librarian in the East Syracuse-Minoa School District until her retirement in the late 70s. While in Manilus, Tex remained very active in the Christ Episcopal Church.
In 1979, when John and Tex retired, they moved to Mount Dora, Florida, 26 miles northwest of Orlando and 25 miles from where she grew up. The Florida girl had come home. She and John were married 47 1/2 years and had 12 1/2 years of retirement before he passed away in 1991.
In 2001, Tex moved to John Knox Village in Pompano Beach, to be closer to her daughter. She was very active in her community, serving as a Resident Senator, and working on the Activities Committee and the Food Committee. She particularly enjoyed serving as a mentor to new residents when they first arrived at JKV, helping them to get acclimated, meet people, and discover the variety of activities available to them.
In March, 2010, when the WASP were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, in recognition of their service to the country, Tex was present for all of the ceremonies and events. A few weeks later she was given the opportunity to fly once again in an AT-6 Texan, which had been her favorite plane to fly as a WASP.