Betty Riley Stockard oral history interview
Table Of Contents
Betty Stockard was among the first specially trained flight attendants and attended a number of celebrities during her time as a flight attendant for United Airlines. She also worked for the Boeing Company.
Elizabeth “Betty” Jean Riley Stockard was born on May 16, 1919, in Kalispell, Montana to Valjean Riley and Charlotte Dryer. She graduated high school from Flathead County High School, which is on an Indian Reservation. Her family made their living as farmers, selling dairy products such as butter and milk. Growing up on a dairy farm, Stockard says her favorite food was ice cream due to it being in abundance on the farm.
After graduating from high school, Stockard knew she wanted to attend college, so she saved up money working at a women’s dress shop and stayed with a family friend while attending the University of Montana in Missoula. There were only two major options for women at that time at this university: home economics and business. Stockard decided on home economics but took a break before her senior year due to the United States’ involvement in World War II.
In 1942 Stockard began working for the Boeing Company at Boeing Field in Washington before seeing a United Airlines job posting regarding “stewardess” (flight attendant) positions. Following this, Stockard began the lengthy interview and training process before becoming a flight attendant. She was among the first women to be specially trained to become flight attendants, as all previous flight attendants had been nurses. During this process, Stockard took her first airplane flight from Seattle, Washington to San Francisco, California.
During her time as a flight attendant, Stockard had interactions with a number of celebrities and famous figures, including First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Stockard also met her husband, Wallace Raymond Stockard, on a flight she was attending. Stockard also had lengthy experience flying in the Douglas DC-4 airplane that came into use during World War II.
After being a flight attendant, Stockard married Wallace Stockard and had four children, three boys and one girl. By 1950, their family was living in San Mateo, California but later returned to the Seattle area. Wallace died in 1990 in Seattle; Betty was still living in the area as of 2014.
Biographical information derived from interview and additional information provided by interviewee.