Audrey married Paul in 1944, and the two founded EAA in 1953. Audrey managed the daily operations of the organization in the early years while Paul served in the Wisconsin Air Guard, according to her obituary.
“Her consistent leadership, strong administration and people skills, led EAA through the first formative decades,” her obituary stated.
EAA CEO and Chairman of the Board Jack Pelton echoed that sentiment, saying, “The quiet power behind the leader in EAA’s formation and development was certainly Audrey Poberezny. She supported Paul from the very earliest days of EAA, from being the sounding board for ideas and balancing the books, to answering the phone and typing out membership cards. Audrey did whatever needed to be done, but never sought the spotlight for herself.”
“Whatever needed to be done” included working with volunteers to clear the site for the first EAA fly-in.
“Her understanding of people was also a gift that helped EAA grow and thrive into its unique place in aviation,” Pelton said, “and her warmth will be remembered by all who knew her.” Aviators around the world likely experienced Audrey’s warmth because she greeted guests to EAA AirVenture, “ensuring they had a most memorable experience,” her obituary stated.
Audrey was actively involved in aviation even though she was not a pilot. She was a wing walker and helped sew fabric for her husband’s aircraft projects. She was inducted into the Women in Aviation International Pioneer Hall of Fame in 1996. The group noted that Audrey “was instrumental in helping the organization grow from a local club for amateur aircraft builders into an international organization that embraces virtually the entire spectrum of sport aviation.” In 2014, Pelton presented her with the EAA “Freedom of Flight” Award in “recognition of your contribution to aviation and our society.”
Given her active role in founding and nurturing EAA, Pelton said “she was indeed EAA’s First Lady.”
Audrey is survived by her son Tom Poberezny, chairman emeritus of EAA, and daughter Bonnie Parnall, along with grandchildren and a great-grandchild. The family has scheduled a private service.