After decades in the aviation industry, and almost eight years at the helm of Mid-Way Regional Airport, Judy Demoney made one last descent from her office that overlooks the 6,500-foot single runway, Friday.

Although the new retiree is looking forward to being unbuckled from the day-to-day rigors of managing the small single-terminal airport that serves Waxahachie and Midlothian, Demoney admitted that saying goodbye to her staff of two was not an easy one.

“I will miss my airport family the most because it’s such a close-knit group,” the airport manager said. “We have a very good team out here. The people that I work with – Tammy Bowen, our operations assistant, Mario Martinez, the three of us are the administrative team out here at the airport. So, I’ll miss my people, my peeps.”

Waxahachie and Midlothian city officials praised Demoney for the developments she brought to the 27-year-old airport where the runway, extended in 2011, is split between the Waxahachie and Midlothian city limits.

“Judy brought a leadership style and stability that was greatly needed when she took the position and maintained those qualities throughout her tenure,” Midlothian City Manager Chris Dick said. “She worked diligently, along with the Airport Board, to accomplish the goals and objectives of Midway Airport.”

“We are fortunate to have had Judy as part of our team for the past eight years,” Waxahachie Assistant City Manager Albert Lawrence stated. “Not only has the airport grown during this time, but airport operations and customer service have greatly improved under her leadership as well.”

It comes with no surprise that Demoney is lauded for having improved customer relations at the facility because that’s one of the main things she came through the door in 2012 ready to tackle. She brought with her a wealth of experience from being a travel agency owner, and working in inflight management with Frontier Airlines in Colorado and National Airlines in Florida. Demoney, however, said she had no experience in airport management and relied heavily on on-the-job training.

“I really didn’t have knowledge of general aviation,” Demoney explained. “I had what they needed at the time for an airport manager. It was in a different stage than it is right now. They needed more customer service, interpersonal skills, business acumen, things of that sort, so when I came it was a lot of in-basket training for me to learn the technical side, the general aviation side.”

To understand the indelible mark that others say Demoney leaves on the 243-acre property at 131 Airport Drive, one must understand what her leadership has birthed.

“Just a few of the projects completed during her tenure include the terminal building expansion, the apron was expanded to accommodate additional aircraft parking, additional T-hangars and taxiways were built and the Airport Master Plan was updated,” Dick explained. “In addition, the security-fencing project is currently in process.”

“She also helped secure significant TxDOT Aviation grant funding for projects, which allowed the partner cities to leverage resources to improve the Airport.”

The terminal doubled in size to 8,000 square feet in 2012, just a year after the runway’s own expansion. In 2014, the apron or ramp expanded by 20,000 square yards. There are 68 hangars for aircraft storage.

A 2018 study by the Texas Department of Transportation estimated that the airport generates $22 million in economic activity for the region. Additionally, $6 million in payroll and 202 jobs are directly attributable to the airport’s operations.

“It is not your mom and pop airport,” Demoney affirmed. “People don’t really realize, I think, what an asset this airport is to, not only to the two cities that own it, to the county and to the region.”

As she leaves a male-dominated field, Demoney remains passionate about women in leadership and fair wages. She is encouraged by the next generation of superwomen steadily breaking through the glass ceiling.

“That is something that has been on my mind since I was 20 years old starting up in the airline industry,” said the women’s rights champion, calling it one of her "hot buttons."

“Seeing the generation today, the women that were awarded the '40 Under Forty' this past week, I see the strides that have been made, but I also see there’s a generation out there that’s going to keep that going so I’m very, very proud of that and I’m very enthused that that mantle will be carried on,” Demoney expressed.

The Waxahachie Media Group honored 40 professionals throughout Ellis County whose work has positively impacted the region. More than 60 percent of the honorees who attended the award ceremony last Wednesday were women.

As she flies off into the sunset, Demoney said she would use her free time to “stop and smell the roses,” sleep past five in the morning and turn her phone off at night. The aviation aficionado also plans to do some traveling.

“I will stay involved,” the Waxahachie native assured. “I am going to be on the Waxahachie Community Development Corporation; I’ve just been appointed to that, and I’m on the Rotary board, and I’m on the trustees' committee at my church – First United Methodist Church.”

“Even prior to her position at the airport, she has been a tremendous asset to our community, and will continue to serve as such,” Lawrence said. “We wish her all the very best in her retirement.”

A strong supporter of community building, Demoney advises the youth to “get involved with people, with your community. Have a purpose.”