Niagara Gazette

September 19, 2013

SATURDAY: A ceremony will be held at Oakwood Cemetery to honor the pilot whose last act saved hundreds.

By Michele DeLuca
Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette —

Back then, they might have used a word like "dashing" to describe a good looking fellow like flying ace Capt. William C. Glasgow.

They would have called him "daring," too. His bravery was evident in the 80 or so missions he flew into Europe and Africa during WWII. He also managed to escape twice from enemy capture. 

The Niagara Falls Air Force captain was surely a hero, but never more so than in the last act of his life.

Glasgow, who made it home safely from the war effort, died months later at an airshow in Ohio, while flying a test plane. Under extraordinary circumstances, he was able to keep the descending plane lifted until it cleared the grandstand, saving hundreds of lives. 

Now, finally, many years after his death, thanks to the efforts of family members and volunteers at the history-rich Oakwood Cemetery, Glasgow's heroism will be remembered at 11 a.m. on Saturday during a public ceremony inside the cemetery at 763 Portage Road. 

"All I wanted was for Bill to be remembered," said Violet McIntyre, his cousin, who will turn 90 in November. "He was such a good young man. I just admired him so much."  Her love for her cousin has helped to keep his memory alive among the members of her extended family and through the writing and family research she continues to this day.

Her grandson, Terry McIntyre, who is studying to be a lay pastor, wrote a sermon about Glasgow, noting that the pilot, who at only 28 was an elder of Pierce Avenue Church, lived a selfless life. He recalled how, rather than hundreds being killed at the show, there were only five casualties, when fuel from the plane ignited a car heading to the show, killing five occupants while sparing a baby who was thrown from the vehicle.

In his sermon, McIntyre recalled a Dayton newspaper columnist's interview with the lone survivor in that car, now in her late 60s, whose hands still bear the scars of the tragic day though she has no memory of the crash. Nina Hampton, who lost her parents and older sister in the crash, is now married with two sons and five grandchildren, and told the columnist, “The more I live, the more I realize God’s blessings. Because I lived, I have a responsibility to be a blessing to others.”

That the baby, raised by grandparents, grew to have a happy life, gives great comfort to Violette, who was moved by the survivor's resolve to share her blessings. "It's so amazing to go through a tragedy and have the feelings that she does," Violet said.

And now, on Saturday, extended members of the William Glasgow's family will likely feel blessed as well, by the full story of their inspirational flying hero.  

Among family members present will be relative who recently became a volunteer at Oakwood, and only then learned of the ceremony.  Giselle Ladouceur had known of her second cousin, William, but after hearing more about him as the event was planned, now feels closer to the pilot's memory. "I got to know him a lot more," she said. "Now, he's like somebody I know, somebody personal to me."

Along with the medal presentation and the unveiling of a marker denoting Glasgow as a notable resident of Oakwood, there will be a bag piper performing, in tribute to Glasgow's Scottish heritage. 

"We're going to have a celebration of the life of William Glasgow," said Pete Ames, a volunteer board member at the cemetery. "We are going to present the family with a medal posthumously, unveil a new historic sign and have momentos and other materials on display related to the captain." 

Warren Baltes, the Connecticut Street Armory archivist, and friend to Oakwood, was originally going to present the family with Glasgow's POW medal that he obtained, but Baltes died unexpectedly recently. The medal will be presented by Oakwood's administrator, Larry Steele.

The ceremony is open to the public. 

IF YOU GO WHAT: Ceremony to honor WWII pilot Captain William C. Glasgow WHEN: 11 am, Saturday, open to the public WHERE: Oakwood Cemetery, 763 Portage Rd. MORE INFORMATION: Contact Oakwood Cemetery at 284-5131 or visit online at www.myoakwood.com.