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George Janes Leubuscher

LAKEVILLE — George (Sargent) Janes Leubuscher, 103, died Dec. 23, 2006. She was the widow of Frederic H.L. Leubuscher.

She was born on Dec. 18, 1903, to Laura (Boyer) Sargent and George William Sargent, in Reading, Pa.

At the time of her death, Mrs. Leubuscher was the oldest and longest tenured member of the National Audubon Society, having maintained continuous membership since 1913, when she was 10 years old.

A former airplane pilot, Mrs. Leubuscher was a member of the "Ninety-Nines," an organization formed in 1929, which continues today to encourage and promote women pilots in various flying activities.

Mrs. Leubuscher was formerly of Essex Fells, N.J., and Lakeville, and had resided in Naples, Fla. since 1981. She was known throughout her life as George, and as she noted in her autobiography, living with a boy’s name "makes me unique." She would always introduce herself to others with the phrase, "I am a girl named George," noting, "If I don’t, people waste time trying to figure out if my name is short for Georgina or Georgette, and at my age I hate to waste time."

In 1925, Mrs. Leubuscher earned her bachelor’s degree, with honors in physics, at Wheaton College in Norton, Mass. A longtime fundraiser for her college, she established a scholarship for deserving Wheaton students.

Mrs. Leubuscher’s lifelong love was the National Audubon Society. She recently recalled that as a young child she learned from her father that "even the lowly skunk cabbage represents the beauty of nature." She was president of the Housatonic Audubon Society of Connecticut from 1967 to 1969 and continued as a director of the State Audubon Board for many years. Recently, she was integrally involved in various conservation and fundraising efforts for National Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, an 11,000-acre wetlands preserve in Naples. The sanctuary contains a wide variety of wildlife, including birds, alligators and Florida black bear, and is the largest remaining virgin bald cypress forest in North America.

In 1940, as a mother of three, Mrs. Leubuscher flew her first solo. She noted the plane "had no cockpit, no radio, and very little in the way of navigational equipment." She was a member of the Air Corps Reserves, helped train and recruit pilots for the Air Force during World War II, and served in the Civil Air Patrol from 1942 to 1944. Despite crashing her government plane during training exercises at Easton, Pa., Airport in 1944, she maintained her love of flying and, while in her mid-90s, landed a private plane in Melbourne, Fla. During World War II, she also served in the West Essex County (N.J.) Motor Corps and with a similar organization in Sedgwick, Maine.

In 1926 she married Warham Whitney Janes, from whom she was divorced after a 21-year marriage. She was married to Frederic H.L. Leubuscher from 1947 until his death in 1995.

She is survived by two daughters, Susanna J. Stephens and her husband, Robert, of Milford, N.J.; Nancy Patton of Waltham, Mass.; two step-daughters, Mary L. Weaber of West Chester, Pa., and Joan L. Angell and her husband, David, of Eau Claire, Wis.; one stepson, Frederick Dow Leubuscher and his wife, Naomi, of State College, Pa.; 19 grandchildren; and 33 great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her son, Dr. G. Sargent Janes, husband of Ann, of Lincoln, Mass.

A memorial service will be held at the Naples United Church of Christ on Seagate on Jan. 13, 2007. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the National Audubon Society’s Corkcrew Swamp Sanctuary, 375 Sanctuary Road, Naples, FL 33964, or to the Naples United Church of Christ, 5200 Crayton Road, Naples, FL 34108.

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