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Margo Rogers Kurtz

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Margo Rogers Kurtz Obituary
September 25, 1915 - February 5, 2019 Margo Rogers Kurtz, author of the beloved World War II home front memoir "My Rival, the Sky," died February 5, 2019 at her home in Toluca Lake, CA at age 103 1/2. She is survived by her daughter, actress Swoosie Kurtz, and preceded in death by her husband, Col. Frank Kurtz, the most decorated Air Force pilot of World War II.Margo was born on September 25, 1915 in Omaha, Nebraska. She met Frank Kurtz while attending USC and helped coach him to compete as a high platform diver in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. After Kurtz joined the Air Force, he gave Margo flying lessons, and she soloed in a small, open cockpit plane. The two married May 20,1939 in Omaha.Wartime audiences were captivated by Margo as she toured extensively with Hollywood celebrities and other writers as part of the war effort and was recognized by the Secretary of the Treasury for completing six war bond tours.Margo was the first woman to christen a combat airplane when she christened The Swoose, the historic, record-setting B-17 flown by her husband and later installed at the Smithsonian. Kurtz and his surviving companions had cobbled the aircraft together from damaged bombers-- "part swan, part goose"--in the Philippines after Pearl Harbor. On September 6, 1944, while Kurtz was serving in the Pacific theater, Margo gave birth to their daughter and named the baby Swoosie.In 1969, Margo traveled to 24 countries in 32 days on behalf of the United States Olympic Committee to get the Games for Los Angeles in 1984.Published by Putnam in 1945, "My Rival, the Sky" tells the story of Margo and Frank Kurtz's extraordinary partnership. It was condensed in Cosmopolitan Magazine and selected as a Time Magazine "Book of the Week." In 2014, Penguin Random House reissued "My Rival, the Sky" in tandem with "Part Swan, Part Goose," a memoir by Swoosie Kurtz, in which she describes her mother as "the model wartime bride of the 1940s: industrious, beautiful, capable, the perfect combination of stiff upper lip and fire-engine red lipstick."Margo's sharp mind and joyful spirit lasted well past the century mark. When her physician asked the secret to her longevity, she replied without hesitation: "I love life."
Published in the Los Angeles Times from May 3 to May 10, 2019
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