JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) – A woman from Jackson County who passed away decades ago has been given a great honor.

The United States Congressional Gold Medal.

“She was the fun aunt,” said niece Florence Clark.

“She was very adventurous,” nephew John Clark said.

Mary Elizabeth Clark served in World War II in the Civil Air Patrol and family members said she always had her head in the clouds.

She joined the Jackson Civil Air Patrol in 1941.

Two years later she joined the American Red Cross and served overseas during the war.

“This is a woman who was really unique for her time frame,” said great-niece Jennifer Clark.

Clark was the first Jackson pilot to fly in the transcontinental women’s air race called the Powder Puff Derby. Now 40 years after her death, she is the first Jackson county resident to be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. It is the country’s highest expression of appreciation.

“It’s pretty amazing. It’s pretty amazing,” said niece Reidy Clark.

Her family said Clark inspired many female pilots and she also inspired her great-niece to find out more about her life. That’s when she submitted her aunt’s name for the award.

“It’s been a fun way to learn about her. I didn’t get that personal thing, so this is a way for me to get a little bit of that personal thing,” said Jennifer.

The Clark family said they are happy that their relatives’ accomplishments are being recognized.

“This is a big honor for our aunt, and the family is so enthused to be able to do that,” Jennifer said.

Family members said the fun doesn’t stop here. They are having a family reunion Saturday with Clarks from all across the country.