Notes for GEORGE JEFFERSON PRICE:
Son of Clarence Virgil and Jeanne Marie (Roe) Price.
Born: September 13, 1913 in Chicago, Cook County, Illinois.
Died: October 4, 2009 in Miami, Miami-Dade County, Florida.
Last Residence: Miami, Miami-Dade County, Florida.
Education: University of Arizona.
Married: Velma "Martine" Broderick Before 1944 in Unknown. Divorced before 1961.
(2) Antoinette ? b. Unknown. She had married (1) ? Saba Unknown in Unknown.
Early flier had adventurous life: Among other accomplishments, former Pan Am pilot George Jefferson Price flew the only civilian.
Oct 10, 2009 (The Miami Herald)
George Jefferson Price, a Pan Am pilot who flew seaplanes out of Dinner Key during World War II -- and the only civilian aircraft in the 1948 Berlin airlift -- has died at 96.
A Coral Gables resident since the 1970s, Price spent his final months at a Falls-area nursing home where, according to relatives, he died in his sleep on Oct. 4 after a hearty breakfast.
A first cousin of the famed journalist George Polk, the Chicago-born Price grew up wealthy in Montclair, N.J. Eschewing the Ivy League -- and despite a mild-mannered nature -- he chose a life of adventure, riding a horse from Southern Arizona to Mexico City in the 1930s, negotiating tricky Caribbean water landings during the '40s, serving a divided Germany in the '60s and building a retirement villa in Lebanon on the eve of civil war in the '70s.
"George was a legend in Pan Am," said Al Topping, of Kendall, the airline's corporate spokesman at the time it folded in 1991.
A union negotiator during his working life who won sizable gains for fellow pilots, Price, in retirement, pushed for a Pan American World Airways museum in Miami. Some of his papers and photographs reside in a Pan Am collection at the University of Miami, where Price once studied journalism.
"He devoted his life to that airline," said his son, G. Jefferson "Jeff" Price III, of Glyndon, Md. "His obsession was staying in touch with [other pilots] through the Clipper Pioneers," a Pan Am alumni network named for planes in the company fleet. Price was president in the 1980s.
Price was the son of stockbroker Clarence Virgil Price and Jeanne Marie Roe Price, a prominent Christian Science practitioner. Admitted to Princeton University during the Great Depression, he instead chose the University of Arizona.
In 1934, Price and a friend headed deep into Mexico on horseback. The three-month journey, "conceived as a good-will tour linking the University of Arizona and the University of Mexico, included some dangerous encounters with 'desperadoes' and bandits," said stepson Robert Saba, associate director of writing programs at Florida International University.
Price headed back East before graduating, learned to fly at New Jersey's Teterboro Airport and joined the New Jersey National Guard's Essex Troop, a cavalry unit in 1938.
Three years later, Price joined Pan Am, which assigned him to southbound seaplane routes out of the Dinner Key terminal, now Miami's City Hall.
During the war, Price doubled as a flight instructor and aerial spotter of German ships. In 1944, Pan Am sent him to Puerto Rico with his then-wife, Velma Broderick Price -- now known as Martine Price -- and two young sons. A third was born later.
Price flew the San Juan-to-Trinidad portion of the airline's Miami-to-Rio de Janeiro route, with intermediate stops in St. Thomas, Antigua, Guadaloupe and Martinique in Sikorsky and Martin-designed "flying boats."
Price was involved in President Franklin D. Roosevelt's secret wartime trip to Casablanca to meet with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, relatives said.
On Jan. 12, 1943, FDR clandestinely boarded one of two Pan Am Clippers in Miami headed for Morocco. George Price flew in one of them, relatives believe.
In 1946, Pan Am moved Price to Belgium, where he captained DC3s. Two years later, Jeff said, "he and a couple of other pilots 'borrowed' a Pan Am DC3 in Brussels, loaded it with food and other supplies and flew to [Soviet-blockaded] West Berlin where they became the only civilian -- and unauthorized -- aircraft to join the airlift."
After brief tours in New York and Miami -- where the Prices bought a coral-rock house on the Coral Gables/South Miami border -- Pan Am sent Price to Frankfurt, Germany.
After the war, Germany's Lufthansa airline was forbidden by the Soviets to fly in and out of Berlin, so carriers from the Western Allies -- the United States, France and Great Britain -- handled the traffic.
"Pan Am flew passengers from various German cities to Berlin along the narrow air corridors designated in agreements between the West and the Soviet Union. . .," Jeff Price noted.
Price returned to Miami in 1956 to captain DC4s and DC6s to Latin America. In the early 1960s, he headed back to West Berlin, which the Soviets had walled off from East Berlin in 1961.
By then, Price had divorced and remarried: to the former Antoinette Saba.
Planning for mandatory retirement in 1973, Price began building his dream house on a hillside overlooking the Mediterranean Sea south of Beirut.
His second career was to be in archaeological photography -- one of his passions, stepson Robert Saba said.
But, said son Jeff, "he laid the last brick and the civil war started" in 1975. The Prices sold the villa and returned to Miami three years later.
PAN AM MUSEUM
Price worked with other Clipper veterans to establish a Pan Am museum, at two old terminals at Dinner Key, but the idea lost out to other development plans -- although some artifacts are on display at City Hall. In addition to his wife, son Jeff and stepson Robert, Price is survived by sons Broderick and William; stepdaughter Irene Marie, the Miami Beach modeling-agency director; stepson Richard Saba, and brother Henry Price.
A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Saturday at the Stanfill Funeral Home, 10545 S. Dixie Highway, Pinecrest.