Dorothy Ebersbach's service portrait
Dorothy Ebersbach, NUR'54
Aviator. Nurse. Pioneer.
Dorothy “Dot” Ebersbach was born in Pomeroy, Ohio in 1914, the second of two daughters for Charles and Ellen Ebersbach, owners of a growing road construction company in Ohio and Florida. Her passion for adventure, learning, and service was evident early in life. During a family trip to the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair—a year after Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo over the Atlantic—Ebersbach also took flight. She flew for the first time in a seaplane with her father. The joy of that first experience never left her.
She earned her private pilot’s license in 1939, three years after she graduated summa cum laude from Ohio University with a bachelor’s in education, mathematics and English. Her father—who had moved the family including Dorothy and his company to Florida full time—buoyed his daughter’s soaring ambitions. He gave her a Piper Cruise—a three-place, single-engine plane which she logged for more than 350 hours transporting supplies statewide for the family business.
When the United States entered World War II, Ebersbach put her new aviation knowledge to work for her country. She was one of only 1800 women from a pool of over 25,000 applicants accepted into the newly formed Women’s Airforce Service Pilots or WASP. More than 700 of those washed out or dropped out of the rigorous training to fly non-combat missions. But Ebersbach thrived ferrying new planes from factories to military bases. She tested newly repaired airplanes and towed targets for the male anti-aircraft pilots to practice their dog-fight skills.
WASP members were considered civilians rather than military personnel. They were not granted veteran status until 1977. In 2010, Ebersbach and her peers were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for their distinguished service to their country in its time of need.
Following the war, Ebersbach continued to serve others. She graduated from the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing in 1954 and joined the Hillsborough County Health Department in Tampa, Florida. She worked in the field of public health until her retirement in 1975. She was a lifelong active member of the Hype Park United Methodist Church, the Tampa Bay Garden Club and the American Association of University Women.
Her final act of valor was the creation of the Dorothy Ebersbach Academic Center for Flight Nursing, which merges her three loves: flying, nursing, and service.