Velma Wallace Dies at 95

Former Cessna leader’s widow lived life as a philanthropist.

Velma Lunt Wallace, the widow of Dwane Wallace, passed away this weekend at the age of 95. Dwane Wallace was Clyde Cessna's nephew. He became president of Cessna Aircraft in 1936 and during his nearly 40-year legacy as Cessna's leader he grew the company to become the world's largest general aviation manufacturer. After her husband passed away in 1989, Velma Wallace said: "If it wasn't for Dwane Wallace, the company wouldn't exist today."

Mrs. Wallace, who met her husband while working as a Cessna employee, remained involved with aviation throughout her life. She held single- and multiengine pilot certificates and she awarded annual Wallace scholarships to several students at the Wichita State University College of Engineering – a tradition she and her husband started in the 1970s. In addition to funding their education, the scholarship recipients established personal relationships with Mrs. Wallace, who provided friendship and mentorship to the students. The Wallace scholars program has benefited more than 600 students, according to WSU.

Mrs. Wallace’s commitment to education went beyond the scholarships. As late as last month, she donated $3 million to WSU. She was also involved with and provided millions of dollars in funding for Exploration Place, a science discovery center in Wichita. Her commitment to the field of aviation and the Wichita area earned her many awards and honors, including the first Wichita Aero Club Trophy in 2010.