Mircea and Ioana Cantacuzino
Born in 1895 and 1900 respectively, Ioana and Mircea Cantacuzino were two of the four children from Ion G. Cantacuzino’s (nicknamed “the Engineer”) second marriage – the marriage to Maria Fălcoianu. The other two were Despina, born in 1901, and Maria, born in 1904.
Following the tragic loss of both their parents (Maria died in 1907, and Ion in 1911), the orphans were raised by their father’s step-cousin Elena Cantacuzino (born Constantinescu), the wife of Gogu Cantacuzino, Minister of Finance. Without the stabilizing factor of a complete family, the orphans became dependent on each other. It appears that the two children relied on each other and formed a close bond. Since she was the eldest, she had to carry the burden of being a mother to the others.
Mircea was educated in Charlottenburg, Germany. Fluent in German and proficient in understanding English, Mircea was flamboyant as well as a bon viveur. From horse riding to car racing, the elegant trappings of a privileged lifestyle clearly set him on the road to being independent.
It was likely that Mircea would take up flying. A keen car racer, this was a natural progression into a world of adventure and excitement. It was a period in Romania where the “he who dares, wins” attitude was prevalent. It was clear from an early age that Mircea would become an aviator.
The aviation industry was very much in its formative stage and pilots of the day were revered not only for their fearlessness but also for their pioneering spirit. This was not only for themselves but also in the sense to promote a positive attitude about the country.
Shortly after establishing this school, Mircea died in an airplane crash at the tender age of 30 years, leaving behind a wife and very young five-year-old son, Dan Cantacuzino.
He was initially buried at his estate in Cornu, Prahova (photo), and he was later moved to the family crypt at Bellu Cemetery.
His legacy and vision, in the form of the School of Aviation, continued as Ioana took up the mantle.
Ioana was educated in Călimăneşti and went to university in France. At the age of 12, she started to be interested in astronomy and corresponded with the famous French astronomer Camille Flammarion who, impressed by her letters, sent her a telescope with which she could observe the moon and the stars.
In April 1915 at the age of 20, she married Grigore Carp, and by 6 February 1917, they had a daughter, also named Ioana, who was born in Bucharest.
Ioana and Grigore Carp later divorced and she subsequently married Eng. Aurel Persu, the man who invented and patented the aerodynamic automobile, in 1924. This new marriage lasted for several years, but ultimately ended in divorce. She never remarried, and carried on with her brother’s legacy, successfully running the Mircea Cantacuzino School of Aviation and constantly helping to consolidate its reputation and influence at national and international levels.
Ioana spent the later part of her life at the villa in Călimăneşti where she died in December 1951, at the age of 56. Due to the works for moving the cemetery, the location of her grave is still unknown to this date.