January 7, 2012

What readers thought about Boeing’s decision to leave Wichita

We asked readers to tell us what effect Boeing has had on them and their families. Here is some of what they said:

My grandfather, Albert Kraus, was born in 1900. During the WW II era he worked as a farm laborer and needed more income to support his growing family. He took a job with Boeing (approximately 1942) working third shift in the machine shop on the B-29. Due to the scarcity of gas and tire rationing, Grandpa and three other men carpooled from north of Goddard daily. At that time Boeing allowed employees to haul off the wood from crates that had carried parts for the bombers. Grandpa, Dad and Uncle Ray loaded the truck with what would fit and that served as firewood. Working third shift and in a “shop” was difficult for this “farm boy” and with harvest approaching he wanted to leave Boeing. Due to the “war effort,” there were government regulations regarding quitting Boeing. After considerable paper work he was allowed to leave and go back to farming because it also was considered “war effort.”

This is as told to me by my dad, Laverne Kraus. Anyone who has lived in or near Wichita for any length of time has, at the least, had a relative or close friend who worked for Boeing. My Dad worked for Boeing for a short time before enlisting in the Army during the Korean conflict. My husband, Jim, has been an engineer for Boeing since he graduated from college in 1974. He has two brothers and a brother-in-law that worked for Boeing and now work for Spirit; the list goes on ...

Sara Peters

I haven’t lived in Kansas for 15 years, but I’ve always felt pride for the good ol’ Air Capitol. Hearing of Boeing ending their 80+ year-tenure in Wichita, much like immature teenagers scornfully ending a romantic relationship, is very troubling. I feel for the families and hope for the best.

Joshua Pickenpaugh

My father, Gordon Bushyhead, retired from Boeing with 30 years service in 1970. He was a Cherokee Indian. He was also a supervisor in the sheet metal department. When an important visitor would visit Boeing, the general manager would bring them to meet my father. They wanted to meet a real Indian. One of the visitors was General Dwight Eisenhower, who later became president of the United States. Gordon also managed several Indian baseball teams. The Indians came to work for Boeing from Oklahoma, and play baseball. I and my brothers Norman and Gerald also worked for Boeing. We were truly an aircraft family. We were saddened to hear of the closing of Boeing at the end of 2013.

Barbara Bushyhead Harshberger

My name is Ashley and this article caught my eye for more reasons than one. Boeing moved my family here eight years ago on a project that was only supposed to take two years. Now, my poor dad must make a decision that will affect all of my family. Everything is not all bad though. Boeing has provided for my family for the past 14 years of my life and that is something that I must be grateful for. Without moving, I never would have met any of my amazing friends and I would not have learned so many valuable lessons about life. So as bitter as I am for Boeing making things difficult, when I look back, I see more good than bad that they have done for me. I hope everyone ends up finding their way and that Boeing has made the right choice.

Ashley Cervantes

My grandfather was a tenant farmer in Missouri, and after my parents married and moved here in 1957, he and my grandmother brought their three younger children here to take a chance on the new aerospace industry that was going gangbusters. Grandpa got a job with Boeing immediately, and worked there as a machinist for 30 years, weathering many down times and layoffs. I still have his service pins for 25 and 30 years, and my mother still has his old tin lunchbox he used to take every day to work.

It feels like I’ve had some kind of association with Boeing my whole life. My father’s and my brother’s companies have been contracted for work at the Boeing Plant, my sister’s husband has been an accountant there, and I’ve had countless friends working for Boeing at one time or another. We also lived underneath the B1 Bomber flight path, and there was always a little pride in knowing how much of those planes belonged to the city of Wichita and its people.

My grandfather was devoted and dedicated to Boeing Wichita, and I am grateful he isn’t around to see its demise.

Melinda Craft

After graduation from Coffeyville Junior College with an Associate of Arts degree in pre-engineering in the spring of 1957, Boeing hired me as a structural design draftsman and placed me on assignments where I could carry 6 or more credit hours per semester at Wichita University. I was drafted into the Army in January 1960. On returning to Wichita in April 1962, Boeing assigned me to the flight line Weight and Balance Unit on the 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. (third) shift so I could carry 12 to 15 credit hours per semeter up to graduation in May 1964. The three men in the Weights Unit on third shift in the 1962-64 period graduated and stayed with Boeing to retirement. Including my military and educational leave time, I lacked one month of having 38 years credited service with Boeing when I retired at age 58.

Francis (Frank) D. Sevart, Wichita

My association with Boeing began in the fall of 1951 after our country became involved in the Korean conflict and employment reached nearly 35,000.

I had a week’s training to be a timekeeper at the United Sash and Door building on East Waterman that Boeing had leased for that purpose. My previous job, for several years, had been as a bookkeeper for a family owned business where the owner’s daughter and I were the office staff. The business was about to fold, thus the time change.

My husband had been drafted into the Marine Corps, so my job at Boeing lasted for only a few months until I joined him for his assignment in California.

Working at Boeing was my introduction to a more technical side of accounting (and better pay) from the simple, handwritten one I was used to, and I value that experience.

Shirley Naill, Wichita

I was entering the Reasearch and Development area in plant one and there was a picture of a Boeing airplane on the outside of a cubicle. All the sections of the plane were color coded so that you could identify what countries certain sections of the airplane were produced in. Very few were color coded for Wichita in the late 1980s! Cable braid work and the White room where all the women put electronic boxes together along with wiring harnesses was shipped off to Mexico where towns sprang up and they put up street signs like Main St., Boardwalk, Park Avenue, etc. That was the beginning of the end of an era!

Garrison Boyd

It was a privilege for me and my staff to work on Boeing related projects during the time I represented the Fourth Congressional District of Kansas. From re-engining the KC-135 tanker, to B-52 modification work, to Air Force One work, to a myriad of commercial aviation issues domestically and internationally, our congressional staff working together with the offices of Senators Dole and Kassebaum, other congressional members, as well as with Machinists Union members and other employee groups, spent extensive time and effort assisting the Boeing Company and its many fine workers expand their relationships with the federal government and others. I am very sorry to see them leave Wichita, but hope they will continue to maintain their presence here in every other way possible.

Dan Glickman, U.S. Congress, 1977-95

Maybe it was a good thing that I got laid off back in 2005! At least I had time to go out and find a job. Good luck to my former employees.

Clay Williams

I have worked directly with Boeing for over 20 years and for Spirit for slightly under 5 years (not by choice). Boeing has been a very good company to work for at times and been terrible other times. I had to deal with a warn notice in 1994 which prompted me to work in Wichita. I left Boeing for a year and a half and returned to Boeing Wichita in 1997 during the same month as the merger with McDonnell-Douglas. Then I had to deal with the uncertainly of 9/11/2001 and the divestiture to Spirit in 2005. I returned to Boeing in Seattle in 2010 after my assignment with Spirit was completed. It is proving to be a wise move. I feel sorry for my friends stuck in Boeing Wichita and advise them to get a new job ASAP.

Wishing Wichita, Kansas, all the best

Ron Pasik, Boeing senior engineer for 22 years and counting

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