The passion and spirit of Hazel Marjorie Hohn was seen time and again as people from all walks of life gathered at the Fountainhead Four-Square Church on Saturday morning to share memories and celebrate her life.
Hohn died in Reno of breast cancer on Jan. 15. She was 79.
A member of Women's Airforce Service Pilots (WASPS) during World War II and an author of many children's books and articles, she was a Northern Nevada resident for 43 years.
"She had the ability to dream, to be a pioneer," said Reno Pastor Robert Owens. "She was a woman of courage who risked everything and wanted to be a part of it all."
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Oct. 13, 1922, Hohn had a passion for aviation and everything that went with it, even as a child.
Aviation was in its infancy when Amelia Earhardt visited her classroom and by the time Hohn graduated from high school in 1939, her mind was set. She overcame the stigma that discouraged women from becoming pilots and went on to serve as an engineering test pilot during World War II.
She was among the 1,073 women who flew B24s and B17s, ferrying them from factories to destinations throughout the country. As a WASP, she also taught male trainees how to fly and towed targets for combat gunnery practice. The WASPS disbanded without fanfare after the war.
"I would like to thank Hazel on behalf of women's veterans," said Kathleen Clements, a U.S. Air Force retiree. "Without people like her, many of us would not be allowed to serve and I thank her for her pioneering work."
After military service, Hohn spent years working with local aviation and veterans groups, including the Reno National Championship Air Races and the Experimental Aircraft Association.
Hohn came to Carson City in 1959. Hohn's friend, and Carson City resident, Leon Cowan played a soulful and heartfelt solo on his harmonica during the service to the woman he'd known since 1960.
"We looked to her as a saint. She was one who never gave up," he said. "We look at her as one of the children of God. One of the saints has gone home to glory."
Son-in-law Charles Kuhn talked of her dyed-in-the-wool liberalism with tears in his eyes. She was dedicated to causes like women's rights, grandparents' rights, and environmental concerns. She was a writer's writer, carrying inspiration on small pieces of paper in her oversized purse.
"She had a brash liberalism that could drive you nuts," he said. "We had many heated discussions, often going on for 50 minutes or more and she always won. She was set, adamant, and brilliant."
Hohn published more than 60 articles, poems, books and stories, including the children's book "The King Who Could Not Smile."
Among her survivors are her sons Jim Kulik of Portland, Ore., John Kulik of Reno, Carol Kuhn and Susan Hunt, both of Carson City, and her grandchildren Rachel and Christopher Kuhn and Beau and Kaira Stevens.
"She had many faces. She was a writer, pilot, mother, daughter, wife and sister," Rachel Kuhn said. "She taught us to treat everyone and everything the same. She taught us to cherish our family, because they won't be there forever. We all had the great privilege of knowing this incredible woman."
This was a grandma who made peanut-butter balls, dyed Easter eggs and would even save crickets from the hungry mouths of pet lizards, according to family members.
"She was the best grandma you could ever ask for," Chris Kuhn said. "She gave me all the love I could ever need, for many, many lifetimes."
Memorial contributions may be made in her name to Women's Memorial, Department 560, Washington, D.C., 20042-0560.