Ellen Church (1904-1965)
Humanitarian, war heroine, and aviation pioneer, Ellen Church dedicated her indomitable spirit to the service of mankind. As the world's first airline stewardess, she created a new and exciting profession for young girls of the twentieth century. Employed in 1930 by United Airlines she organized the pioneer group, "Sky Girls".
As a young nurse in San Francisco, Miss Church approached officials of Boeing Air Transport, a parent company of United, and proposed that stewardesses be added to flight crews. Her idea was accepted. She and seven other nurses began flying between Chicago and San Francisco on May 15, 1930. Miss Church flew for 18 months. Grounded by injury in an auto accident, she enrolled at the University of Minnesota and earned a bachelor's degree in nursing education. In 1936 she resumed hospital duty as supervisor of pediatrics at Milwaukee County Hospital.
In December 1942, she took to the air again, this time as a captain in the Army Nurse Corps, Air Evacuation Service. For distinguished work in North Africa, Sicily, England and France, she was presented with the Air Medal. Miss Church was nationally honored by United and the air transport industry.
As a much-decorated air corps nurse in WW II, she brought comfort and relief to thousands of American soldiers who were wounded on the battlefields of Europe. And as a peacetime nursing instructor and hospital administrator, she guided vast numbers of young women along the path once trod by another humanitarian, Florence Nightingale.
Born September 22, 1904, on a farm near Cresco, Iowa, Ellen Church, combined imagination, persistence, and her own personal warmth to meet life's challenges along the way. Ellen married Leonard B. Marshall Sr. former president of Terre Haute First National Bank, in 1964.
Ellen was a nursing director at Terre Haute Union Hospital and later a hospital administrator. Remaining active after her retirement form Union Hospital, she took up horseback riding and died from a riding accident in 1965. United Airlines contributed $25,000 to Union Hospital in the memory of Ellen Church Marshall.
Her name will serve forever as a symbol of the selfless devotion that rests in the hearts of nurses and stewardesses all over the world.