The Ottumwa Courier


June 20, 2011

Ramona Mikesh, 83, Ottumwa

OTTUMWA — Ramona Louise Mikesh, 83, of Silver Spring, Md., died Wednesday, June 15, 2011, at Riderwood Renaissance Gardens of dementia and complications.

She was born May 27, 1928, in Ottumwa to William and Edith Carr Barton. She married Robert C. Mikesh on April 10, 1950.

A 1946 graduate of Ottumwa High School, she can be regarded as unique for being the first woman in Ottumwa to solo an airplane and before graduating from high school. She was also the first Ottumwa woman to earn her private pilots license, all this while still in her teens. Aviation remained a major interest throughout her life, not only that of being a pilot but in her early years being part of the local airport activities such as helping with fly-in breakfasts and related activities. She was a member of the 99ers (a national woman’s pilot organization) and secretary of her regional NAA (National Aeronautics Association) chapter.

While in high school, she met Robert “Bob” Mikesh.  Their mutual interest in flying was fun but too expensive for both dating as well as flying. There was money to be earned in aerial photography and since Bob had the suitable photography equipment, this seemed a productive way to make money, be together and fly at the same time. “Monie” flew and positioned the airplane while Bob took the pictures. Visits to the farms and small businesses they had photographed were seldom a lost sale.

Her friend Bob yearned for a flying career, so he entered the Air Force Aviation Cadet Program which after one year earned him an officers commission and pilot wings. During his absence and before, Ramona was the administrative assistant to the director of the YWCA in Ottumwa. After Bob’s graduation, they were married April 10, 1950, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Ottumwa. This began a 21-year Air Force life for the two of them and their growing family of two boys. Ramona was the first and only member of her family to leave the security of home in Ottumwa. As an officer’s wife there was more than what some would surmise as just attending teas and coffees. Volunteer programs abounded and participation was expected, but with it came the feeling of accomplishment and goodwill. One of these accomplishments for Ramona was 14 years service as a Red Cross Volunteer at military hospitals.

These military service years were their most rewarding, consisting of two, four-year assignments to Japan. Many Japanese friendships were made, of which numerous prevail today. Ramona remained a full-time “mom” for their two boys, often having to fill the position of “dad” during his frequent absences in the line of duties, including the worries that went with him being away for long periods, which included combat tours in the Korean and Vietnam wars.

Following retirement from the Air Force, the family made their home in the Washington, D.C., area where Bob was at the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution for 21 years, becoming the senior curator. They enjoyed together many of the receptions, celebrations and protocol events that go with living in the nation’s capitol. They traveled extensively, visiting many countries, U.S. locations and return visits to see friends in Japan. Ramona was an avid bowler and golfer until overtaken by physical problems.

The couple moved to Riderwood retirement community in August 2001 so as to enjoy their remaining years in greater comfort.  Health issues continued to mount for Ramon, until injuries from a fall in June 2010 placed her in a Skilled Nursing facility until her death. She was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, sister and to many a best friend. She enjoyed spending time with her family and her children and their children.

Surviving are her husband, Robert C. Mikesh of 61 years; two sons, Michael R. Mikesh and Christopher J. Mikesh; granddaughters Robyn A. Collins, Sarah L. Carden, Heather L. Bowers and Rebecca E. Mikesh, all within the Washington area. She also has three great-grandchildren and a brother, Robert E. Barton of Ottumwa.

Funeral Mass will be at 11 a.m. Monday, June 20, 2011, at Resurrection Church, Riderwood Village, 3160 Gracefield Road, Silver Spring, Md. 20904.

Visitation will be from 10 a.m. until service time Monday at the church.

Internment will be in Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Ramona’s honor to the Alzheimer’s Association, National Capital Area Chapter, 3701 Pender Drive, Suite 400, Fairfax, Virginia 22030-6045 to aid in the fight against this devastating disease.

Donald V. Borgwardt Funeral Home, Beltsville, Md., is in charge of arrangements.

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