Noted New Norfolk woman dies

A FORMER New Norfolk woman referred to as the “Lady of the Air Force” has died in Victoria, aged 88. Gloria Gwendolyn Grace was born at New Norfolk in 1920 and came to fame as a result of her service during World War II. She and her younger sister Marcia joined the Women’s Auxiliary Australian Air Force in 1943.

The then Corporal Gloria Grace was based in Melbourne when the artist Harold Freedman spotted her on a tram, carrying a briefcase with the distinctive monogram “G.G.G.”. Deciding that she would be perfect for a new series of war service portraits, Freedman tracked down the attractive servicewoman and immortalised her in a painting which today hangs in the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. From this portrait, she became known as the “Lady of the Air Force”.

Miss Grace married Len Corcoran at St Mary’s Cathedral, Hobart, in 1947. The couple had three children, Michael, David and Andrew. In 1949 she was struck down by polio, and its effects remained with her for the rest of her life. Despite this setback, she gained a Bachelor of Education and became a teacher in the Catholic education system in Victoria. She died in a Melbourne nursing home yesterday, just short of her 89th birthday.

Both of the images used here have been sourced from the Australian War Memorial website.

The ABC has more on this story here including audio of tributes from younger brother Geoff Grace and childhood friend Ron Ruthven.

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