BIO Index

Martha Dee Thomas

Dee Lewis here - formerly Martha Dee Thomas. I did not graduate from SHS but was there for the 10th and 11th grades. I am very excited to be coming to the reunion.

So - about me. Following graduation from Upland High in Upland, CA, I went to UCLA and studied theatre arts. I ran out of money with one semester to go and took a temporary job with American Airlines. Welllllll, 33.5 years later I retired from AA. It was a great ride. I started as a flight attendant and then became a flight attendant supervisor. From there, I went to reservations and trained and supervised reservationists. After 15 years with AA I went to Air California where I was in charge of flight attendant hiring, training, uniforms, contracts and scheduling as well as onboard food service. It was a real workout and I loved every minute of it.

American Airlines bought AirCal in 1987 and I was able to keep my seniority and return to this great company. My last job was as a flight service manager in Los Angeles. I had 200 pursers reporting to me and London as my "market." (Trouble shooting Los Angeles/London from an in-flight perspective.) I retired in 1999.

I married Dick Lewis, a wonderful man, in 1968. He was the only person I have ever known who said, "Thank God it's Monday." He was devoted to his work as a dentist. He served in organized dentistry as President of the California Dental Association and Vice President of the American Dental Association. He established a free clinic in Long Beach and went into nursing homes free of charge to help the elderly. After he retired he became a California certified ombudsman for nursing homes and served one year on the Los Angeles Civil Grand Jury as well as volunteering at our local hospital. I miss him. He died March 24, 2009. We were married for 40.5 years. I never met a couple more happily married than we were.

Dick has a son, Mark. Mark lives in London and is a delight. We traveled the world with him and my youngest brother who is my junior by 20 years. He and Mark are close in age and could pack a suitcase in 5 minutes. Mark now travels all over the world for his large advertising company as an IT director. He is very happy in his traveling life. His lady is a Brit and they have a fabulous life together.

Mark was almost 2 when Dick and I married so I have known him all his life. He is very much like his father. He comes to see me 3 times per year and I try to get to London every year as well. In fact, I will be there this month - March.

In my retirement I volunteer at the Music Center of Los Angeles. I am a docent. We give free tours of our 4 theatres. Our newest venue is the Walt Disney Concert Hall which was designed by Frank Gehry in stainless steel. I love showing it off! You have probably seen the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, our largest theatre, as it was used for the Academy Awards for many years. The last year was 1999 when Roberto Benigni stood on the backs of the chairs before going to the stage to accept the award for best actor.

I have a paid part time job working for the City of Los Angeles which owns 3 airports, Los Angeles International, Ontario International and Van Nuys General Aviation Airport. This is the one where I work. It is the busiest general aviation airport in the world. I work in public relations as an airport guide. We give free tours and work street and career fairs. We go into classrooms and talk about the airport and or careers in aviation. My favorite program is ACE - Aviation Career Education. This is basically a free summer camp. We have middle school kids for one week and high school youngsters for another week. The students are with us for 5 days, morning until night. We go all over the area in a bus so the kids can experience a variety of airport/airline jobs. They like going to JPL, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in Pasadena to see the "spaceships" built for NASA. This is a fun job with flexible hours.

I have belonged to a Reading Group since 1973. We meet once per month for stimulating conversation. We select books in December for the coming year. I read things I would never have picked up on my own and am always pleasantly surprised. I belong to the Kiwi Club. This is an organization for current and former American Airlines Flight Attendants. I enjoy this "sisterhood." Our charily this year is to provide a guide dog for a needy person. I take Spanish classes but am really lousy at it.

I am learning what a lot of work it is to take care of myself. Living alone for the first time in my life has been an eye opener and I make progress everyday. I could handle a multimillion dollar budget for the airlines but balancing my checkbook was a challenge. Fortunately I have good friends and family to call when I need to know how to answer the stock broker or have an out of reach light bulb changed...

A good friend has established a dental clinic in Cambodia to honor my husband. My niece, a hygienist mentored by Dick, my friend and I will travel to Siem Reap, Cambodia in November. Fund raising for this clinic will be ongoing. A buck goes a long way there. The before and after treatment photos are amazing. Why Cambodia? Dick and I were never there but our friend had established a school there in memory of a 16 year old who died of cancer. Already having connections and knowing how to maneuver in Canbodia paved the way; plus most of the villagers had never had tooth care. You can't imagine the condition of their teeth! They routinely chew on sugar cane and don't own a toothbrush!

So, I am surprised if you read this far and thanks if you did. I am looking forward to our reunion.

All the best, Dee