Mary Leota Mae Burks was born in December of 1918. The first part of the story chronicles the life and adventures of my mother’s obstacles while pioneering careers for women in aviation, especially crop spraying and dusting. The last half of the book tells of how my mom’s teachings and her leading by example influenced my life for the losses I encountered in my adult years.
I was encouraged to write The Crop Duster’s Daughter to give voice to my mom’s gutsy struggle to obtain her dream of flying while living in a man’s world. My mom truly helped pioneer the way for women’s rights to pursue any vocation of their choosing. She believed you could achieve whatever passion burned within you if you never gave up. To this day, female crop dusters are a rare breed, but their path is easier due to the endeavors of my mother.
I am the youngest of four children. I had two older brothers and an older sister, but sadly we lost a brother and our sister along the way. Now it’s just my older brother, Ben, and me.
We grew up helping our parents with the crop–dusting business. We were always up just before dawn. Mom or dad drove us to the farmers’ fields where we would ‘flag’ the fields to mark the ‘swaths’ so they knew where to spray. Now, they use automatic flags mounted on the airplane. Steve and Ben flagged the fields while my sister, Laurie, took care of me while we waited in the pickup.
Today, I live in Oklahoma and am happily married and pursuing a writing career. My daughter is married and blossoming into her own best. I have a grateful heart, and my life is fulfilling and blessed.