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Vera Doane Christen

Took her last flight Dec. 25, 2000 to be with Harvey
(from an interview in 1986)

VERA (DOANE) CHRISTEN of Pasadena, CA and widow of Lockheed Aircraft Corporation’s first employee, the late HARVEY CHRISTEN, and has taken her last flight Monday, December 25, 2000. Memorial services for Vera will be at 11:00 a.m., Friday, January 19, 2001 at Mountain View Cemetery, Pasadena, CA.

Vera Doane, on her birthday, July 7, 1933, was hired into Lockheed: THE FOURTH WOMAN IN THE HISTORY OF the 1932 Lockheed (now Lockheed Martin). Vera said she was only hired for one week at a time. If Lockheed’s salesman Carl Squier sold an airplane, Vera would have a job the second week. It was on that week that Carl Squier called into the plant to inform management he had just sold 6 airplanes to American Airlines. Vera now knew she was employed on a full time basis!

Vera Doane started her employment as a switch board operator. She also doubled as company receptionist, and all-around-girl Friday. One responsibility was to greet people who would visit the Lockheed plant: Anne and Charles Lindbergh, Ruth Nichols, Amelia Earhart, Gladys Ingells, Roscoe Turner, Jimmy Doolittle, Jimmy Mattern, Wiley Post, Howard Hughes and the list goes on….

One memorable person Vera liked to talk about was the famous Roscoe Turner, and his Gilmore Lion. Roscoe flew with his lion cub in those days: it was his pet. When Roscoe came to visit, he would naturally register at the desk with Vera and leave the lion up front with her.

Vera was a very modest person and said she was just fortunate enough to “grow up with the company.” She was a natural to train new switchboard operators, teletype operators, mail runners and others. During the peak of the War (WWII), Vera became LOCKHEEDs FIRST WOMAN DEPARTMENT MANAGER. She headed up the communications department comprised of a staff of 170 persons, to conduct 33,000 calls going through the switchboard everyday, night and day. Vera was employed with Lockheed from 1933 until 1948, when at the insistence of her new husband, Harvey Christen, she resigned her full time employment at Lockheed.

Talking with Vera’s niece and husband, Carol and Burt Basney, they said that Vera and Harvey were very involved as a team with their church, the Rose Bowl Pasadena activities and numerous organizations. Burt wrote the Christen’s were active with:

“the Salvation Army, Kawanis (district director) and director of the western states for the Boy Scouts of America.” Burt was also told that after WWII, the company didn’t want married couples to both work for the company.
He also told another great Social Security story:

“When Social Security was enacted the gov’t people came to the plant to sign up new employees. Vera and Harvey were in line together and therefore assigned sequential numbers so Vera and Harvey’s social security numbers were only one number apart.”