Mary Elizabeth Hallowell, 87, of Huntingdon Valley, who inspected planes during World War II and later wrote about her experiences, died at her home Sunday, Dec. 12, of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Mrs. Hallowell, whose maiden name was MacFadden, married into a family of Quakers with roots that extend to the William Penn land grants in 1682, said her son, Henry W. Hallowell III.
Born in Philadelphia, she lived most of her life in Huntingdon Valley, where the Hallowells had been land owners, millers, and bankers. It was believed that the family homestead in Lower Moreland had been a stop on the Underground Railroad, her son said.
Mrs. Hallowell grew up on Rhawn Street in Northeast Philadelphia and graduated from Frankford High School before graduating from Moore College of Art and Design in 1943.
That year, Mrs. Hallowell was determined to help the World War II effort on the home front, so she took a job at the Budd Co. plant on Red Lion Road inspecting planes that had come back from combat.
"If there was any damage, it was up to me to make an engineering change to correct it," she wrote in a self-published account of her life.
She discovered that the fasteners holding the metal skin of certain planes to the bulkhead were defective. The metal skin, in some cases, was not attached at all.
"I wonder to this day how the pilot got that plane down," she wrote in her book.
She designed a special nut, and the retooled part was manufactured by a firm owned by her family. It then was installed on all such planes.
Mrs. Hallowell met Henry W. Hallowell II when he dated her sister. The two married in 1950. He died in 2001.
Mrs. Hallowell started her own interior-decorating business at home in 1950 and ran it until the late 1960s, when she trained for a career switch. She taught remedial reading in the 1970s at Bryn Athyn Elementary School, then became a volunteer.
She was a tour guide at the Glencairn Museum in Bryn Athyn and was a Republican Party poll watcher.
She was a member of Jeanes Hospital Woman's Auxiliary, Huntingdon Valley Fire Company Auxiliary, Bryn Athyn Church Choir, Glencairn Museum Association, Theta Alpha Epsilon Society, and Moore College Alumni Association.
She was a member of Huntingdon Valley Presbyterian Church and, later, Bryn Athyn Church.
Surviving, in addition to her son, are three grandchildren.
A memorial service will be at 2 p.m. Monday, Dec. 20, at Bryn Athyn Cathedral, Huntingdon Pike and Cathedral Road.