Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Remembering Coral Lorenzen

This, my remembrance of Coral Lorenzen (shown in the photo with her husband Jim) with minor revisions made in August of 2000, was originally submitted to Pursuit, journal of the Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained. Like APRO, NICAP and so many other fine organizations dedicated to exploring UFOs and other scientific mysteries, SITU folded unceremoniously, and my thoughts on Coral remained unpublished. The disappearance of well-regarded research organizations — and seasoned investigators such as Coral — is a tremendous loss in the battle for truth vs. what some among us prefer to pass off as the truth.



Coral E. Lorenzen, co-founder of the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization in 1952,
and co-author of several books with her late husband, Leslie James Lorenzen, died in Tucson,
Arizona, on April 12, 1988. Her passing also signifies the end of APRO, a pioneering UFO
investigative organization renowned for an extensive file of international UFO reports and
occupant cases.

Unfortunately, the close of APRO's chapter in UFO research arrived tragically. Mrs.
Lorenzen, long plagued by health problems that ranged from breaking her neck in 1979 during a
fall to the endurance of severe lung problems which required home oxygen on a daily basis, also
suffered the tragic death of her daughter a month before her own demise.

Born in Wisconsin in 1925, Mrs. Lorenzen's interest in UFOs dated back to a childhood
sighting at age nine. She created a UFO ground observer corps in 1952 in Wisconsin, the same
year the Lorenzens created APRO, of which she became international director and editor of
APRO's membership publication, The A.P.R.O. Bulletin.

Notably, Mrs. Lorenzen worked in U.S. defense plants during World War II, and in 1952
was employed by the Air Force in the range scheduling office at New Mexico's Holloman Air
Force Base, at that time "a discussion center of UFO activity," according to her first book (1962),
The Great Flying Saucer Hoax.



This writer knew Coral and Jim Lorenzen since 1965 as an APRO member, later as a field
investigator, and over the years was pleased to stay in touch with them via
correspondence and phone conversations — mainly with Coral, who seemed often more visible
than her husband; Jim usually seemed content to let Coral vocalize about their work. It would be
phony and presumptuous of me to portend an extremely close relationship with the Lorenzens, for
this was not the case, nor ever had I the pleasure of meeting them face to face. But they were
always there when I wanted to ask questions about UFOs as a teenager, nor were they too busy
or remote to offer a few words of encouragement when I found myself military-bound during the
Vietnam years. Afterwards, they arranged the break I desperately needed to write for national

Honesty, loyalty to her contacts and outspokenness were among Coral's most remarkable
qualities, the latter of which earned her detractors as well as friends. She knew the ins, the outs,
the dirt and the depths of UFO research and investigators everywhere, and if anybody inspired her
wrath she felt obligated to tell those whom she trusted about the indiscretions, always with a
sound moral attitude. And when she and Jim released yet another of several paperback books on
UFOs printed by a major publishing house, that particular one contained an acknowledgments
section in which they kindly thanked and honored each and every one of their many field
investigators by name, state by state, nation by nation.

While she had the talent to relate important issues in a very serious manner, Coral could be
quite light and humorous. One time, though, she made me laugh on the inside, for I dared not
confront her outrage as she described an interview of the Lorenzens conducted by a supposedly
nice enough reporter — which ended up being published in a popular monthly men's magazine
noted for nude female pictorial features. Coral had no idea that the article was destined for this
"trash," as she called it, and even though the piece proved excellent and informative, her fury
from a moral standpoint exceeded the heat of a blast furnace.

Nor was she a fan of Steven Spielberg's movie, "E.T." Perhaps with some justification,
Coral worried relentlessly during one of our conversations about the harm that the then-popular
fantasy image of a friendly little alien could do to research and reporting of the real, anything but pleasant encounters with UFO entities. Considering that the Lorenzens soberly entertained the
legitimacy and potential consequences of UFO occupant incidents long before most other research
organizations, their files bulging with international entity cases, it would not be unusual for Coral
to question the dangers of the seemingly innocent "E.T."

If there was a side to Coral that seemed particularly striking in the last three or four years,
it was her growing hostility toward "personalities" in the UFO field and their misuse of publicity
apparently for the sole purpose of making names, if not riches, for themselves: Stardom first,
science second, in essence. In fact, among her final wishes was the stipulation that after her death
APRO's membership lists would be destroyed, apparently to protect her beloved membership
from the unscrupulous. "I've just about had it," she once told me. "Everybody's fighting to be on
top. They all want to be famous and nobody wants to do the work. There are times when I tell
myself just to give it all up."

But neither Coral nor Jim gave up on APRO, and even after Jim's death a couple of years
ago she seemed determined to keep the organization and its Bulletin in progress, relying
increasingly upon deputy director Robert G. Marsland to accomplish the goals.

My last contact with Coral occurred about a year before her passing, when she phoned to
ask assistance with a project involving the famous Ubatuba "UFO fragments" case. (Note: See my article, "Coral Lorenzen and the Ubatuba UFO Fragments," at NICAP.org via the site search engine,) Thinking
back, her request had the urgency of perhaps somebody trying to tie up some loose ends before
her own departure. She had mentioned lightly in a conversation several months after Jim's death
how sometimes shortly after a spouse dies the remaining partner follows, so longevity was
apparently on her mind. As it turned out, while I felt honored to help, I accomplished virtually
nothing. Nevertheless, Coral, kind Coral, thanked me profoundly for my attempts.

In the context of our remaining phone conversations, we chatted about UFOs, APRO and
the usual mundane things that work their way into casual discussions. And yes, Coral was feeling
better, especially since her move to a new home at a higher elevation in Tucson, though oxygen
supplementation was an essential daily necessity. Coral had recently experienced a fungal lung
infection, and my suggestion that population growth in the Tucson area probably didn't help her
health prompted her to protest that the real culprits are the plants easterners bring along and
transplant in Arizona, creating an increasing breathing dilemma for allergy sufferers.

Speaking of Jim's death from cancer in recent months, Coral clearly had a rough time with
it. Talking about him was difficult for her, and she would abruptly end discussions about Jim,
saying "I still can't..." However, his presence remained strongly with her, because in the flow of
conversation she would still say "we" ("We have air conditioning," for example), rather than "I."

Coral had "guts and grit," and those of us who had the pleasure of knowing her and appreciating the enormity of her contributions are nothing less than fortunate as a result.