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Marjorie N. Balch

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Date published: 12/3/2013

Marjorie N. Balch

Retired Air Force Maj. Marjorie N. Balch, 86, died in Fredericksburg on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013, after a long illness.

Balch was born April 18, 1927, on a stormy Easter Monday afternoon in Spokane, Wash. One of her earlier memories was of watching the cars go by and wondering where they were going, which presaged her later life choices for travel and mild adventure. She had the great good fortune to attend a country school in Denver, Idaho, where she learned more in two months from hearing all the younger students recite; than she had in most schools in a year. The school had 10 students running from first to sixth grade, which was her class. She attended the University of Idaho, Seattle University, and received a bachelor's degree from the University of Washingon. She was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. She received a master's degree in writing from the Instituto Allende.

One day, when she was working as a secretary, a friend called and told her that the U.S. Air Force was looking for women officers and she appeared to qualify. It sounded better than staying in the old home town, Seattle, where decent jobs for female college graduates were rare. So she applied and made most later career decisions based on where they would take her, location-wise, which of course cost a bit career-wise.

Her first overseas assignment was to Chateauroux, France, a town midway between Paris and the Riviera, with lots of beautiful and interesting places to visit on weekend trips with like-minded friends. She loved her two tours in England, both mostly in East Anglia, where she had a charming thatched cottage. Her 18 months in Germany were agreeable. She spent a year working 10-hour days in Thailand, where there were 10,000 American men and about 50 women officers, mostly nurses, but a few line officers like Marj. Like most women, she loved a situation where there were more men than women, but 10,000 American men to 40 American women was ridiculous and you never knew what they were thinking. Or likely to say. Funny conversations resulted.

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