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Scholarship honoring county native awarded

Hanna Marie Deitsch is the first recipient of the James L. Graham Jr. Memorial Aviation Scholarship. She fell in love with flying after her first flight in a Piper 13 Cub in 2014.

By MELINDA WILLIAMS

melinda@southwesttimes.com

Hannah Marie Deitsch, who “fell head over heels in love with aviation” after her first flight, can pursue her dream of being a commercial pilot thanks to a scholarship created in memory of late Pulaski County native Col. James “Jim” L. Graham Jr.

Deitsch, 18, of Warrenton, is the first recipient of a $12,000 James L. Graham Jr. Memorial Aviation Scholarship, created by Graham’s wife, Ann, last year. The fund was established to help others achieve the dream Col. Graham finally realized before dying from cancer in 2017.

Graham grew up on Pulaski Avenue in Fairlawn and graduated from Dublin High School in 1960. He was chairman of the school’s 2007 All-Class Reunion Committee.

He served in the Air Force for over 20 years and as a consultant for 20 years, but never achieved his dream of becoming a pilot until the late 1990s.

Deitsch was selected from 23 other candidates applying for the scholarship. She is majoring in aeronautics at Liberty University and has a 4.0 GPA (grade point average). In addition to working part-time and flying, her other activities include membership in Women in Aviation, Future Business Leaders of America, Distributive Education Clubs of America, playing tennis and volleyball, and consistently volunteering in her church.

She grew up in New York, but graduated in the top 10 percent of her class of 850 students at Pinkerton University in New Hampshire.

“She is described as reliable level-headed, and mature; and one who has leadership skills combined with intuitive understanding, and who is a team player,” a press release from the scholarship committee states.

The scholarship is effective immediately. A formal presentation will be held this summer at Warrenton-Fauquier Airport, where Deitsch is enrolled in flight school.

“As DaVinci said, ‘For once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward …’ Jim’s eyes were always turned skyward; Hannah’s eyes are as well. Both their dreams are being realized: Hannah’s dream of learning to fly, and Jim’s dream of helping to make it possible for a young person to learn to fly,” the press release states.

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