Emeritus, In Memoriam
Jean Landis was born in 1918 and raised in the farm community of El Cajon, California, near the City of San Diego.
Jean attended San Diego State College and graduated with an A.B. degree in Physical Education in 1940. She was Homecoming Queen and active in campus activities. Her campus accomplishments were featured in student yearbooks. Upon graduation, she taught physical education at Grossmont High School near San Diego.
As a teenager, Jean had shown a keen interest in flying planes. In 1940 she joined the Civilian Pilot Training program (CPT) soon after graduation. When the country entered WW II, Jean volunteered and was chosen for the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) of WW II, a paramilitary organization, where women pilots flew military aircraft on non-combat missions to allow more male pilots for combat missions. She served until WASP was deactivated in 1944. Records of WASP were classified for many years, and the women who served went unrecognized as American patriots. That ended when the US Congress passed a bill (signed by President Barack Obama in July 2009) to award the Congressional Gold Medal (the highest Congressional honor for civilians) to Jean Landis and all other female WASP pilots. She now has full veteran status. In 2010, Jean’s great nephew Devin Scott produced an award-winning documentary film “She Wore Silver Wings” dedicated to Jean Landis and the heroics of all WASP pilots.
Jean Landis went back to the profession of teaching physical education in the mid-1940s. She attended graduate school and obtained her M.S. degree from Wellesley College. Over her academic career, she held faculty positions at several colleges, including Park College, West Chester State Teachers College, and Ball State Teachers College. Her last faculty post was at her Alma Mater, San Diego State. She held the position of Assistant Professor of Physical Education from 1968 to 1979. She was awarded the status of Emeritus Assistant Professor of Physical Education upon her retirement in 1979.
In 2015, Jean was awarded the SDSU Alumni Association “Monty” award for the College of Health & Human Services in recognition of her contributions to SDSU and the country. In retirement, Jean Landis has lived in her native El Cajon and at her vacation home in northern Idaho. At age 98, Jean remained independent and active. She shared her experiences as a WASP pilot at the El Cajon Historical Society, Lakeside Historical Society, and the Borrego Springs Film Festival. Jean peacefully passed away on December 13, 2022, at the age of 104.