Violet "Vi" Cowden, a Huntington Beach resident who served with the Women Airforce Service Pilots during World War II and recently became the subject of an award-winning documentary, died Sunday at 94.
Cowden died at 8:34 p.m. at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, according to the Orange County Sheriff-Coroner Department.
A Congressional Gold Medal winner last year, Cowden was among the few surviving members of the service pilots, known as the WASPs, who were the first women to fly American military aircraft.
She was also active in Huntington Beach, serving as a grand marshal in the Fourth of July Parade and arranging for American flags to hang from the pier during Veterans Day weekend. For years, she served as a board member of the Bolsa Chica Land Trust and often participated in beach cleanings and restoration work.
"My fondest memory of Vi is her ability to always find a positive in any situation," said Land Trust Executive Director Flossie Horgan. "She was a very optimistic person who was generous with her time and her love for the Huntington Beach community. Quite apart from Bolsa Chica, she was involved in all kinds of community projects and always available to go and meet with our Congress people.