Cover photo for Alyce Rohrer's Obituary
Alyce Rohrer Profile Photo

Alyce Rohrer

September 7, 1922 — February 1, 2024

Alyce Rohrer

September 7, 1922 — February 1, 2024

From Roaring Engines to Whispering Pages: Alyce Rohrer, the Woman Who Swapped Warplanes for Words

Alyce Stevens Rohrer, a fearless pioneer and member of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) during World War II, touched down peacefully on February 1st, 2024, at the age of 101. Known for her significant achievements in the air as well as on the page, she lived a life of courage, dedication, and quiet strength, inspiring generations of women to challenge boundaries and reach for the sky. Hers was a life that soared beyond imaginable heights, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of generations and the fabric of history.

Recognized for her pioneering role, she belonged to the first group of women to fly for the U.S. military, the WASPs, an innovative program established by Eleanor Roosevelt and Jaqueline Cochran during WWII to fill the growing pilot shortage.

“I knew I wanted more,” Alyce said in an interview for Ms. Magazine. “I wanted freedom. As a little girl I would walk the fields and watch a plane fly over. The first time I saw one I lit up. I knew I would be a pilot one day, and no one could stop me.” Alyce was born on September 07, 1922, in Cedar City, UT as Alyce Stevens. She grew up with four siblings in rural Provo, Utah, where she received word of a new military program open to women who could fly.  

According to the US Army website, in the 16 months WASP existed, more than 25,000 women applied for training; only 1,879 candidates were accepted. Among them, 1,074 successfully completed the grueling program at Avenger Field - a better "wash-out" rate than 50 percent of male pilot cadets at the time. In addition to ferrying, testing and delivering planes for repair, WASPs also performed check flights, put flying time on new engines, towed targets for anti-aircraft gunnery practice, flew searchlight tracking missions, and instructed male pilot cadets. 

Alyce Stevens met her husband James Rohrer on the airfield. He was a flight instructor who worked alongside her at Avenger Field. They were married after the war and started a family in Pasadena, California. 

Eight months before the end of WWII, the WASPs were suddenly disbanded unceremoniously, without recognition or even bus fare back home. It was a humbling experience to pass through the rigorous training, fly planes that were being used as target practice with live ammunition, only to be quietly dismissed and refused veteran status for several more decades. reported that on Sept. 20, 1977, a select House subcommittee on veteran affairs heard testimony on H.R. 3277, a bill which recognized WASP service as active duty in the armed forces and entitled them to veterans' benefits. It was strongly supported by both houses of Congress and Sen. Barry Goldwater, who had flown with WASP during World War II; he led the move to get the bill passed. The bill was vehemently opposed by the American Legion on the grounds that it "would denigrate the term ‘veteran' so that it will never again have the value that presently attaches to it." Controversy went back and forth, with the Veterans Administration opposing the bill and the Department of Defense supporting it.

James was rewarded for his significant military record; and honored with awards, commendations and a job offer in Japan.  Mitsubishi wanted his expertise in aeronautical engineering and paid for his family to live in Japan for three years while their home was under construction in Pasadena. Alyce Rohrer grew into a strong and silent military wife, learning elegant domestication with a hint of quiet indignation. She was a homemaker, then a high school English teacher, then finally an author once she had the freedom to share her view.

She taught herself how to play the organ and piano.  The art that comforted her most, however, was her passion to write. Her first published book, The True Believers, outlined the life and days in the Mormon church.  It won her national acclaim.  She continued to write over five more books, eventually working up the courage to write about her time as a WASP.

Rohrer was an avid reader and writer. She authored several published books, ranging in genres from literary fiction, thriller and her time as a WASP. Her words, like her flights, carried her audiences on incredible journeys, sharing the untold stories of her wartime experiences and the triumphs and struggles of everyday life.

Rohrer’s published works were acquired in 2019; by the renowned Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, housed in the building formerly known as the Radcliffe Library at Harvard University

Rohrer was the subject of several documentaries, including Coming Home: A Flight for a Legacy by Red Door Films, as one of the principal characters. It is directed by Fullbright scholar and academy award nominated Matia Karrell. 

Alyce was a devoted wife of James Rohrer and had two children, seven grandchildren, 12 great grandchildren and five great-great grandchildren. She was often seen at speaking events, book readings, and ceremonies around the nation accompanied by her daughter, Carol Ann Benson. Her son, Glenn Rohrer of Priest River, Idaho, had the privilege of taking his mother on her last private flight, in his own C-182 aircraft, a fitting farewell on the way home from a Idaho Bird Museum’s celebration of WASPs event in 2010.

She enjoyed being President and member of the Shakespeare Club of Pasadena, and often hosted regular bridge club events in her home over the years. She would speak as an authority on Shakespeare at several events and functions in the Los Angeles area and taught several Shakespeare classes at the club over the years.

In 2009, 64 years after the end of World War II, the Women Air Service Pilots were finally honored for their wartime service by receiving the Congressional Gold Medal by President Obama—the body’s highest expression of national appreciation. Only 300 WASPs survived to receive their medals, accompanied by family, friends and caregivers.

Obama said,“The Women Airforce Service Pilots courageously answered their country’s call in a time of need while blazing a trail for the brave women who have given and continue to give so much in service to this nation since. Every American should be grateful for their service, and I am honored to sign this bill to finally give them some of the hard-earned recognition they deserve.”

Rohrer was further honored by her member of Congress in a private ceremony in his office with close family and friends.  

Rohrer was also honored by riding a float in the famous Rose Parade on New Year’s Day in 2014, along with eight other WASP members riding on it.  Alyce proudly waved to the cheering crowds as her family cheered from the stands.

She has always been witty and willing to have a conversation with her loved ones. She gave several interviews and continued to write and edit books throughout the covid-19 pandemic.

Though grief mutes our voices, a song of celebration rises for a life that soared against the wind. Alyce Rohrer, whose final landing came peacefully, leaves behind a story that takes flight anew, inspiring generations to chase their dreams, defy expectations, and pen their own remarkable chapters in the grand narrative of life.

Her spirit, like her legacy, will forever remain airborne in the hearts and accomplishments of all women who fly, and all of us who dare to dream just a little more than what we are told is possible. 

Alyce Rohrer, a true inspiration and trailblazer. To celebrate her remarkable life and enduring spirit, we invite you to join us for a memorial service in her honor.

Services for Alyce will be held at Church of the Ascension in Sierra Madre on Mar. 9th at 11:00.  The church is located at the corner of Laurel and North Baldwin  at 25 E. Laurel.  Please join us in celebration of a life well lived.


Alyce Rohrer, 101, born on September 07, 1922, in Cedar City, UT, United States, passed away February 01, 2024. She resided in Sierra Madre, CA at the time of her passing. Arrangements are under the care of Forest Lawn, Glendale, CA.


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