Passed away on September 14, 2018
Mary Coppa Moench
Mary Coppa Moench passed away September 14, 2018 in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida after a brief illness.
Mary was born on June 5, 1921 in Alexandria, Virginia to Elvira and Orinto Coppa, Italian immigrants who settled in Northern Virginia. She was the first generation of that family born in America. Mary was raised with her three brothers in Alexandria, where she attended St. Mary’s Catholic Church and School, and graduated from George Washington High School in 1939. She worked at J.C. Penney and helped open their flagship store on King Street in Alexandria, Virginia while still in high school.
She married her first husband, John Anderson Farrish in 1941, before his service in the U.S. Army in WWII. PFC John Farrish died in France in 1945 of injuries received in combat during the liberation of Europe. A war widow, Mary joined the civilian service as a secretary with the Air Transport Command at Washington National Airport (Reagan National) and then as administrative assistant to a series of General Officers at the Pentagon. During her last Pentagon assignment with General Elwood R. ‘Pete” Quesada, she served the Tactical Air Command and was involved in the Manhattan Project, working on the Atomic Bomb Testing at Eniwetok Atoll. In 1951, upon General Quesada’s retirement, she transferred to Germany with the U.S. Occupation Forces at the Army-Air Corp Base in Wiesbaden, Germany. There she met and married a young Air Force Colonel, John O. D. Moench.
Through her husband John’s 32-year military career she was the consummate “Air Force Bride” – skillfully managing 30 moves, countless separations, short and long term duty assignments and the rigors of service with grace. Mary made every duty station a home within days – always following the Air Force Credo that a party should be thrown within a week of arrival at a new station. Her tireless support and assistance helped her husband become a flag officer, achieving his second star, retiring as a Major General in the USAF in 1974 and continuing a notable civilian career as a Senior Executive of a Fortune 500 company, a business owner, an author and historian until his death in 2013. Mary provided the safe harbor and steady keel to her husband and children throughout the upheaval that often accompanies military life. She was a strong, devoted and joyful servant to her family and friends, always putting the needs of the people she loved first. She will be missed by those who knew and loved her, all of whom saw her as a role model in their own lives.
Mary is survived by her daughter, Michele Moench Kirby and son, Jon Jeffery Moench – both of Palm Beach County and four grandchildren, Rachel Lauren Kirby of Boston, Christina Nicole Kirby of Tampa, Rex Broughton Kirby III of Orlando and Madeleine Amelia Moench of Tampa. She was predeceased by her husband of 60 years, Major General John Otto Dax Moench and by their infant son, Dale Webster Moench. She will be buried alongside them at Arlington National Cemetery at 2:00PM on Friday, January 11, 2019. Attendees should arrive at the ANC Administration Building at One Memorial Drive before 1:15 PM to join the processional to the graveside service.
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