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Obituary: Balch, Major Marjorie N.

Age 86

BALCH, Major Marjorie N. USAF Ret. (Age 86) Died in Fredericksburg, Virginia on November 26, 2013, after a long illness. Balch was born April 18, 1927 on a stormy Easter Monday afternoon in Spokane, Washington. One of her earlier memories was of watching the cars go by and wondering where they were going, which presaged her later life choices for travel and mild adventure. She had the great good fortune to attend a country school in Denver, Idaho, where she learned more in two months from hearing all the younger students recite, than she had in most schools in a year. The school had 10 students running from first to sixth grade, which was her class. She attended the U. of Idaho, Seattle University, and the U. of Washingon (B.A.). She was a member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. She received a M. A. from the Instituto Allende, in writing. One day, when she was working as a secretary, a friend called and told her that the US Air Force was looking for women officers and she appeared to qualify. It sounded better than staying in the old home town, Seattle, where decent jobs for women college graduates were rare. So she applied and made most later career decisions based on WHERE they would take her, location wise, which of course cost a bit career wise. Her first overseas assignment was to Chateauroux, France, a town mid way between Paris and the Riviera, with lots of beautiful and interesting places to visit on week end trips with like minded friends. She loved her two tours in England, both mostly in East Anglia where she had a charming thatched cottage. Her 18 months in Germany were agreeable. She spent a year working 10-hour days in Thailand, where there were 10,000 American men and about 50 women officers, mostly nurses, but a few line officers like Marj. Like most women, she loved a situation where there were more men than women, but 10,000 American men to 40 American women was ridiculous and you never knew what they were thinking, or likely to say; funny conversations resulted. Following retirement from the Air Force in the rank of major, she and a nurse friend decided they deserved a holiday and spent six months in South America traveling on the cheap up the Amazon on a modest Brazilian boat, through the spectacular foothills of the Andes, to Tierra del Fuego. Subsequently she took a year-long round-the-world trip, with highlights being her visit to Nepal and working for Mother Teresa for two months in Calcutta, India. Later she bought and renovated two houses, one in Rosendale, NY and one in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, both since sold. She has been in and out of San Miguel since 1974. She is survived by her nephew Thomas J. “Burke” Balch, great-niece Bridget and great-nephew James Balch, who live in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and by her nephew Rob Balch of Woodland, California. Online condolences may be sent to . (This obituary was written by Major Balch herself, with minor updating of the text after her death.)