When the following article appeared in USA Today in June of 2000, Evelyn had already been in the skies for a year. Read what Tony has to say about his reasons for taking her on board:
JUDGMENT AND LEADERSHIP MORE IMPORTANT THAN AGILITY
I would love to hire more older people," says Tony Ferngren of US Airways Express, who supervises 72-year-old Evelyn Gregory as East Coast manager of in-flight operations.
He has found older workers "responsible. You can count on them. They won't say, 'I can't show up because I've got a fabulous date with a boyfriend.' And they have the life experience not to overreact to situations."
The problem, he says, is that most over-50s don't know they could have a second career as a flight attendant, so they don't answer ads.
While seniors serving in the cabin aren't common, the Association of Flight Attendants says there is no mandatory retirement age for attendants. But they must pass yearly tests.
Extreme strength and agility aren't necessary, just judgment and leadership, says Ferngren, 52. In fact, it's common practice for attendants at all airlines to pick able-bodied passengers to assist in case of an evacuation.
Ferngren calls Gregory a model employee who has merited complimentary letters from passengers. They praise "her personality, her energy. She has a positive attitude and holds herself as very confident in what she's doing. They trust her, and they can see that she enjoys her job."
She also has been enlisted to fly with new US Airways Express attendants to make sure they know their jobs.
Gregory isn't the only over-60 attendant Ferngren has known. For instance, he hired a retired school superintendent who flies out of Columbus, Ohio.
"I'd like to see more," Ferngren says.
Note: Here's what Tony wrote me in response to my reply to his original note. Turns out that he, too, is a late bloomer--or at least a perennial:
Thanks for a copy of the article. I had misplaced mine and was unable to find it again. I actually retired from the Miami-Dade Police Dept. at the beginning of 1990. My objective was to do many different jobs in order to compare them and also get an insight. I've been lucky. My experiences are wide and educational. I have owned my own businesses and managed several other company branches. I was a flight attendant for Kiwi, Ryan Air and ultimately at US Airways Express. Presently I teach in South Korea but have also taught in China and Thailand. I've gained a wealth of knowledge, met some wonderful people, and have had fun along the way. When people look at my resume they have a hard time grasping the varied positions I've been hired for, with little or no experience. Thanks again for the copy. If I can help you in your stories of success please write.