Cover photo for Muriel Chalow's Obituary
1918 Muriel 2016

Muriel Chalow

July 25, 1918 — October 8, 2016

Muriel Chalow, a remarkable wife, mother, aircraft pilot, business woman, and recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal died October 8, 2016 in Virginia Beach, VA. She was 98 years old.

During her extraordinary life, Muriel kept her eyes on the skies. She met her husband while taking flying lessons at a time when open cockpits were common and women pilots were not. For more than 50 years, she and her husband, Rudy Chalow, operated a small airport and well known aircraft maintenance facility in Vineland, NJ. After retiring, she enjoyed watching her passion for flying continued as a family tradition with several pilots among her extended family.

Muriel was born in Toms River, NJ on July 25, 1918 to Theodore and Anna Ritter and moved to Vineland, NJ, when she was a young girl. She grew up on the family farm during the Great Depression and graduated from Vineland High School in 1936.

As a young woman, she had an adventurous spirit. She and her sister Floss would don leather helmets and goggles, hop on their brother's Indian motorcycle, and ride to Atlantic City for social outings.

In the early 1940's, Muriel began to take flying lessons and took her first solo flight on March 1, 1942. Her pursuit of her pilot's license was interrupted by flying limitations during World War II.

While taking flying lessons she met and married Rudy Chalow, a fellow pilot and aircraft mechanic. During WWII they both became members of the Civil Air Patrol in Atlantic City, NJ. The CAP originated when a group of civilian pilots banded together to hunt German submarines to stop them from sinking US merchant ships attempting to resupply the war effort.

The efforts of the CAP were kept secret so Nazi submariners would not learn how they were being monitored. Members were not even allowed to tell their families what they were doing. In the end, the efforts of the Civil Air Patrol were so effective, Nazi commanders eventually gave up and pulled their submarines from the US eastern seaboard. It would take over 70 years for the efforts of CAP members to be fully recognized.

Following World War II, Muriel resumed her flying lessons and received her pilot's license on December 27, 1946. For many years, she was an active member of The Ninety-Nines, the international organization for women pilots started in 1929 with Amelia Earhart as charter member and first president.

In the early 1950's, Muriel and Rudy fulfilled their dream of owning and operating their own airport. They cleared runways from pine woodlands in northwest Vineland and built their own home overlooking Willow Grove Lake. Rudy's Airport became known as a premiere small aircraft maintenance facility, drawing clients from all over the East coast. For more than 50 years, Muriel managed the business affairs of the airport.

As a fan of Louis Rukeyser's public television show, "Wall Street Week," Muriel enjoyed following the stock market in an era when few women managed their own portfolios. Her interest in business and finance was passed on to her two daughters who both became small business owners.

After the death of her husband in 2003 and the closing of Rudy's Airport, Muriel treasured time shared with her sister, Florence Ferrarie, and friends at Coach House Park, Palmetto, FL. She later lived with daughter Merle Starer at historic Bayview Farm overlooking the Chesapeake Bay in Cape Charles, VA, and Bay Lake Retirement Community in Virginia Beach, VA.

In 2014, the United States Congress passed legislation bestowing the Congressional Gold Medal on the Civil Air Patrol for their service during World War II with each member eligible to receive a medal. At age 97, Muriel accepted her CAP Congressional Gold Medal and the posthumous medal for her husband, Rudy, at an emotion filled ceremony held January 30, 2016. When she received her medal, she was one of fewer than 100 former CAP members who were still alive.

During Muriel's years in Vineland, she was an active member of the Redeemer Lutheran Church of Vineland.

She is survived by daughters, Merle Starer, of Cape Charles, VA, and Thea Chalow of Tucson AZ; granddaughters, Kimberly Graves of Lorton, VA, Christine Starer-Smith of Chesapeake, VA, and Alexis Starer Doughty of Cape Charles, VA; great grandchildren, Elizabeth, Alex, Carson, and Peyton; sister, Florence Ferrarie of Palmetto, FL; sister-in-law, Dolores Ritter of Vineland, NJ; and an extended family of nieces, nephews, and spouses of family members.

The family plans to hold a private celebration of her life and burial at Bayview Farm, Cape Charles, VA, on Saturday, October 29, 2016 at 12 noon.

Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.doughtyfuneralhome.com

Arrangements made by Wilkins-Doughty Funeral Home in Cape Charles, Virginia.


Celebration of Life Service

Bayview Farm
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    Cape Charles, VA 23310
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