Mary Groce is a writer, speaker, and illustrator. She earned her B.A. in English with a concentration in Theatre Arts from Gettysburg College in 1971. Mary writes and presents programs about her great uncle, Emory Conrad Malick (1881-1958), who was the first aviator to fly over central Pennsylvania (1911), the first licensed black pilot (1912), the first licensed African American transport pilot (1927), one of the first barnstormers, and a pioneer in aerial photography.
In addition to his early work in central Pennsylvania (Northumberland and Snyder Counties), Mr. Malick flew successfully in the Philadelphia/South Jersey area until 1928, when his career as a pilot was cut short by injuries sustained from a crash (possibly caused by sabotage) near Woodbury, New Jersey; but this pioneer in aviation was hidden from history by his peers and even by members of his own family. Until 2004, when Mary discovered Emory’s records in her grandmother’s attic boxes, his story had remained unknown.
Mary has created a website, EmoryConradMalick.com, a Facebook page (Emory Conrad Malick), and she has completed writing and illustrating a two-part children’s book about her great uncle, “Lila Tells the Story of Emory Conrad Malick, Our First Licensed Black Pilot” (for ages 5-8), as well as writing a middle grade historical novel, “Aunt Cora’s Wart, An Historical Faerie Tale: Nipper Fest!” She continues to research and write the biography, “Hidden Hero: Emory Conrad Malick (1881-1958), Pioneer in Aviation.”
While researching Mr. Malick and sharing his story, she caught the attention of the Smithsonian Institution. She was interviewed for an article in their March 2011 issue of Air & Space Magazine, entitled “In the Museum: The Unrecognized First,” by Rebecca Maksel. Since then, many articles have appeared about Emory C. Malick in magazines, newspapers, books and websites, including that of the Oxford African American Studies Center (article by Dr. Philip S. Hart on oxfordaasc.com). Mr. Malick is now included in “Aviation and the Role of Government,” a textbook by Harry Lawrence, (Kendall Hunt, 2014 revised edition).
Mary has presented programs about Mr. Malick in venues all over the country, including the Curtiss Mansion in Miami Springs, Florida, the San Diego History Center, the America Airlines C. R. Smith Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, and other historical societies, schools, and libraries. Ms. Groce has been awarded the Smithsonian’s 2019 A. Verville Fellowship from the National Air & Space Museum.
“Ms. Groce’s research and book have the potential to completely rewrite aviation history.”
--Rebecca Maksel, Associate Editor, Smithsonian’s Air & Space Magazine