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Carlyn M. Sanes, pilot, nurse, pioneer and activist

Dec. 7, 1919 – July 15, 2017

Carlyn M. Sanes was a pilot, a nurse and a speech therapist. She also fought for desegregation of the Buffalo public schools.

She died July 15 after a short illness while living with family in Boston. She was 97.

The former Carlyn Belasco was born in Philadelphia and raised in Buffalo, where she graduated from Lafayette High School in 1937.

After graduating, she moved to California and joined the Civil Aeronautics Administration, working as an air traffic controller at San Diego's Lindbergh Field and was in the Civil Air Patrol during World War II, when she became an airplane enthusiast and obtained her pilot's license.

She also became a nurse's aide and cared for injured troops in San Diego.

"My mother was frustrated by the times she lived in. She wanted to be part of the war effort, so she worked in the control tower, and she wanted to be a doctor, but instead became a nurse," said her son Daniel.

He said she went back to school after raising her children, to start a second career in her 50s as a speech pathologist. She received her bachelor's degree from Rosary Hill College, now Daemen College, and her master's degree in speech and language pathology from Buffalo State College.

"She was totally amazing," her son said of his mother's active life.

Mrs. Sanes worked as a speech pathologist from 1974 to 1984 at Wyndham Lawn Home for Children in Lockport. She also had been active prior to that in the Parent Teachers Association of the Williamsville Public School System, and was a community organizer and patron of the Williamsville branch of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library. She was also a member of the Young Audiences, a nonprofit group that engaged professional musicians to perform in public schools.

Mrs. Sanes's husband, Irving Sanes, had been a board member of the Citizens Council on Human Relations, and she joined him in the 1960s as a plaintiff in the lengthy desegregation case of the Buffalo Public Schools.

The couple was married 48 years when Irving Sanes died in 1995.

In addition to her son, Mrs. Sanes is survived by another son, Joshua, and four grandchildren.

Mrs. Sanes donated her body to science.


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