- Special Sections
WASP Madeline Sullivan Conley O'Donnell, a longtime resident of Menlo Park, California passed away peacefully on Aug. 4 at AlmaVia of San Francisco a few months after her 90th birthday.
Born in Brooklyn, NY, in 1921, â€śMaddyâ€ť, was raised in Bellerose, Long Island, enlisted in the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP, Class 44-2) under Jacqueline Cochran and spent two years doing something she absolutely loved â€” flying. She flew mostly bombers (B-26 Marauders).
Stationed at Dodge City, Kansas, she went through B-26 transition training. She was then transferred to Gowen AAB in Boise, Idaho and, eventually, Peterson AAB in Colorado Springs, Colorado. At each base, WASP flewÂ B-26's as part of the Army Air Forces training command. Missions included towing targets and simulated attack and instrument instruction.
Maddy met her first husband, John Conley II, while on the chow line in Colorado Springs in 1944; they were married nine months later in St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. She gave up her first love â€” flying â€” and they eventually settled in Larchmont, NY to raise their four children.
A few years after John's passing in 1969, she married John Gerard (Jerry) O'Donnell and expanded her living horizons to Hong Kong and Beirut, where they spent four years before moving to Menlo Park.Â
Her passion for tennis, fast driving (in her Miata) and story-telling were renowned.