By Associated Press - Saturday, January 18, 2014

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Maj. Gen. Catherine S. Lutz, the first female general officer in the history of the Mississippi National Guard, has died. She was 58.

Mississippi National Guard spokesman Tim Powell confirmed to The Associated Press on Saturday that Lutz died Thursday.

The Clarion-Ledger ( reported that Lutz died at home in Flora after an extended illness.

Gov. Phil Bryant issued an executive order to lower all state and U.S. flags to half-staff in mourning of Lutz from sunrise to sunset Monday.

Lutz was promoted to commander of the Mississippi Air National Guard in December 2011 after more than three decades of military service, becoming the first woman to hold such a high position within the state guard.

Her funeral is Monday at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Gluckstadt.

“Mississippi has lost a brave and accomplished soldier by the passing of Maj. Gen. Cathy Lutz,” Bryant said in a statement. “Deborah and I ask that Mississippians join us in praying for the Lutz family during this difficult time, and we ask God’s blessing on all military personnel and their families.”

Lutz leaves behind her husband, retired Maj. Gen. William Lutz.

“Please keep the Lutz family in your thoughts and prayers,” said Maj. Gen. Augustus Collins, adjutant general of Mississippi, who called Lutz “one of our nation’s premiere advocates for better health care for our soldiers and airmen.”

Lutz grew up in Jackson and was originally commissioned as a flight nurse in 1982.

She served as a Medical Service Corps officer and a member of the Air Force Reserve and served stints in Biloxi, Washington, D.C., and San Antonio.

Lutz graduated from Southern Miss in 1977 with a degree in nursing. She received a master of nursing administration from USM in 1985 and a doctorate in education from the University of Mississippi in 1998.

As general commander, Lutz was responsible for directing Air National Guard operations but also had direct contact with all areas of the state’s military arm.

It’s unclear when the Mississippi National Guard will select its next air commander. Powell said everyone first wants to mourn Lutz.

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