Ellie Whipple Levy has turned in her wings after 33 years. A flight attendant with United Airlines since 1946, 57-year-old Levy has just retired to embark on a different venture. Recently married for the first time to Bertram L. Levy, a retired deputy regional medical director for the Veterans Administration, Mrs. Levy says, "i want to spend time with my husband and family. I have four children and seven grandchildren now -- all inherited."
Second in seniority among United's 700 Washington-based attendants and 11th among the 8,000 attendants nationwide, Levy joined United when being a flight attendant wasn't a "career job.
Because the airlines did not allow their stewardess -- as the women were then called -- to be married, most quit after about two and a half years to get married. "U thought I would too, but I didn't and it lasted 33 years." Levy says. Although United suggested other jobs, the largest domestic airline never forced their attandants to quit at a certain age as other airlines did, she said, and she preferred to stay a flight attendant."I enjoyed the passengers, and just didn't want to give it up," she says.
Besides the changes in stewardess employment -- there is now no early mandatory retirement, they can now be married and have children, and there are minorities and male flight attendants -- Levy obviously has seen a lot of changes in the airline industry, in its infancy when she signed on.
Her first flying assignment was on the DC4 out of now little-used Midway Airport in Chicago; the DC4 was the first plane used by the airlines to have more than one stewardess. "When I began to fly, there were 21 passengers maximum on the planes; now the crew alone on the 747 is 21," she notes.
Most recently, Levy has chosed to fly 737 flights from Washington south although she had flown coast-to-coast and Hawaii routes for some time.
The first of the Washington-based attendants to actually "retire," that is, leave at a point when retirement benefits are provided, Levy was somewhat misty-eyed at her retirement party Friday. "I'm going to miss it," she says. "It's a wonderful career."
Levy joined United as soon as she could -- at the minimum age of 21 and "by a half-inch," she says. She had tried to get a job at other airlines but had been too tall; United was more generous in its height and weight requirements.
Having used some vacation time before her retirement took effect, Levy says she has already seen one effect of her retirement -- eight pounds "from not running up and down the aisles." CAPTION: Picture, Ellie and Bertram Levy with cake at her retirement party last week. By Lucian Perkins -- The Washington Post