Caroline Iverson Ackerman, 94, a retired journalism professor who had been aviation editor for Life magazine, died Sunday, Sept. 23, 2012, in Billings.
She was born Caroline Emilie Iverson on March 6, 1918, in Milwaukee to Jacob Engval and Ella Dorothea (Schmidt) Iverson. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1939 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and education. She worked as a classified advertising and business feature writer at the Milwaukee Journal, then applied for free flying lessons sponsored by the U.S. government. Rejected initially because she was a woman, she was called back when the school failed to meet its quota of males. She received a pilot’s license in 1940.
After receiving certification as a Civil Aeronautics Administration Ground School instructor in the U.S. Civilian Pilot Training program, she taught at the University of Wisconsin, Carroll College and the Milwaukee School of Engineering. She also took advanced lessons in open cockpit and acrobatic flying. In 1941, she and one of her students made a flight to Alaska, a first in a 65-horsepower, two-seater airplane.
In 1942, Life magazine recruited her as an aviation researcher, developing picture stories, covering stories with photographers and writing captions. She was promoted to aviation editor at the age of 26, and continued in that position for the duration of World War II. She flew B-26, B-24 and B-17 bombers, as well as the first B-29 to come off the line in Wichita, Kan., during tours of military bases.
In 1947, she was released from her job after the soldiers returned from the war. She was hired by Shell Oil Co. in the company’s first program for public relations for women. She worked under the pseudonym “Carol Lane, Women’s Travel Director” and spoke to women’s groups about travel. She also wrote a syndicated weekly column, “Tips on Touring,” and appeared on radio and TV shows as a “travel expert.”
On Dec. 31, 1949, she married Leslie “Les” Ackerman in Wauwatosa, Wis. Shortly after marrying, the family moved to Warwick, R.I. In 1965, the family moved to South Natick, Mass., where she earned a master’s degree in journalism at Boston University in 1969.
Mrs. Ackerman joined Northeastern University as a journalism professor in 1971. She left in 1978 and assisted with communications development within the New England Synod of the Lutheran Church. She was editor of the New England Lutheran until she retired in 1992.
Mr. Ackerman died in 2001; in 2004, Mrs. Ackerman moved to St. John’s Lutheran Ministries in Billings.
Survivors include a sister, Dorothy Edwards of Baraboo, Wis.; a daughter, Karin Field of Matthews, N.C.; a son, Terry of Billings; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
Services will be in Natick, Mass., in the spring. Michelotti-Sawyers Mortuary has charge of arrangements.
Donations may be made to St. John’s Foundation, 2429 Mission Way, Billings, MT 59102.