WAI Recognizes Two Devoted Contributors
by ANN Correspondent Aleta Vinas
Volunteers keep the show running; without them, there would be
no show. The very term volunteer says there’s no pay involved
but that doesn’t matter when you love what you do.
I’ve written an article on Oshkosh volunteers and now
Women in Aviation and one thing I’ve found is that
they’re a shy, humble bunch who tries to stay well below the
radar. Their contributions are much too important to let them get
away with anonymity for too long.
Women in Aviation International recognizes their volunteers
annually, but in 2005 they gave a Volunteer of the Decade award to
two individuals. The winners are a surprise, and were announced at
the banquet Saturday night.
Verne Wiese was announced first. He truly did not expect the
honor; he had relaxed and taken his shoes off after the long
conference -- and ended up going on stage in his stocking feet.
When Betty Huck’s name was called she said "They called my
name I just about fell off the chair." But she did have her shoes
Huck started her volunteerism about a decade ago by helping out
at the WAI headquarters. "One time we even painted the basement,"
Huck said. She moved up to the silent auction and for the past six
years has been working on exhibits.
Huck’s first conference was Dallas in 1997; she
accompanied some friends, one of whom was already a volunteer. She
managed to attend a couple of conferences purely as an
Once the Dayton WAI chapter was founded, Huck’s
volunteering started, with that basement. At one of the Morningstar
(Airport) picnics, Huck made the "mistake" of mentioning her
retirement to Dr. Peggy Chabrian. Huck’s retirement
wasn’t for another several months but the month following the
picnic had Dr. Chabrian on the phone with Huck asking if she wanted
to volunteer to handle exhibits. Huck accepted and handled Exhibits
at the Nashville Conference in 2002.
Huck’s thrill has been seeing the exhibit hall come
together. "Two days into the conference they’re (the
exhibitors) already talking about coming back next year.
That’s a real positive point to hear." Huck says that’s
her high point.
Huck has been given a new role at WAI, this one as paid staff,
as Chapter Relations Manager. Gerri Schultz is retiring after six
years in the position. Huck will continue, for now, to volunteer on
exhibits as well. Huck’s sister Barb has started to pick up
Huck’s former exhibit duties, such as walking the floor
during the conference. Huck’s niece has also been lending a
Wiese did not intentionally become a volunteer; he was drafted
when someone came up to him and asked him to help out at the 1998
Denver conference, placing price stickers on merchandise.
"I’ve slowly been adding more and more all the time." Wiese
To think, Wiese was not even a willing attendee to his first WAI
conference in Minneapolis. Wiese and his wife Lewie had been
attending the 99 conferences for many years. The 1996 WAI
conference was coming up in Minneapolis and Wiese was quite
reluctant to join his wife but eventually relented. He returned
after the conference and said to the Mrs. "I don’t care if
you go next year or not, I’m going." Wiese was impressed with
Wiese enjoys meeting the aviation people he would not normally
have a chance to meet. Chuck Yeager and Moya Lear are some of the
notables. In 2005, Wiese’s "job" was to watch out for Eileen
Collins. Wiese laughs as he recalls "I got to carry her purse from
one place to another." Another high point Wiese enjoys is "watching
people get scholarships and be so excited about it."
When a conference goes on seamlessly or near so, chances are you
can thank the selfless volunteers.