A flight attendant for 60 years and counting

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Sixty years ago, Bette Nash took a job as a flight attendant for Eastern Airlines. Ever since, she's been serving drinks and explaining safety protocol to customers from thousands of feet above ground. The uniforms have changed and new technology has been difficult to adjust to, she admits. “But one thing that stays the same are the people,” said Nash. “Maybe their dress changes, but people have the same needs — a little love and attention.”

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In honor of her 60th anniversary, her employer, American Airlines, held a lunch for Nash and her family, friends and customers in the old terminal of Reagan National Airport in Washington Nov. 3. “It was terrific,” she said. “They gave me diamond earrings and a shadowbox” of service pins from throughout the years. They also donated $10,000 to the food and clothing pantry at her parish in Manassas.

For the past 41years Nash has been a parishioner of Sacred Heart Church in Manassas, which was a mission at the time she joined. Nash, 81, remembers worshipping in the small, historic chapel. 

For 30 years, Nash served as an “envelope counter,” but now she volunteers at the food pantry. It’s something she and her son, Christian, who has Down syndrome, can do together, she said. The pantry gives out food to 40-50 families every Saturday morning. 

Dianne Anderson, who runs outreach ministry for the parish, said there are no concrete plans yet for the generous donation. Nash hopes the money can be used to buy food when supplies are running low, as they often do during the summer. But she leaves the final decision up to Anderson and her pastor, Father Michael J. Bazan. “I'm a worker bee and I never want to be a queen bee,” she said.

Nash is grateful for the support of her friends and her employer who have helped her stay in the skies all these years. “Fly American,” she said. As far as they know, Nash is the longest serving flight attendant in the world. “I feel like I’ve been given a gift from God that I can keep going,” she said. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017

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