Ethel Pattison, a longtime Airports employee and model of service and dedication to Los Angeles, passed away at 97

Ethel Pattison

We featured Ethel in a cover story from October 2020 as she retired at 93 from the Flight Path Museum during the pandemic. She retired after an official 32 years of City service, but unofficially, between her years working part-time for the City and then a leader for the Flight Path Museum, had spent an astounding 64 years to the development of the City of Los Angeles.

Ethel Pattison

Ethel began her City service in January 1956 after retiring from her career as a flight attendant with United Airlines – flight attendants were not allowed to be married, and she was about to do just that.

Her first assignment with Airports was to help promote the grand expansion of LAX from east of Sepulveda Boulevard to encompass the areas west (its current footprint). Bond issues to fund the expansion had failed twice before, and she and others were hired to take the campaign to small meetings and other gatherings to explain why expansion into the jet age was so important. The subsequent bond issue then passed; those today who depend on the modern plant that is LAX have Ethel and others to thank.

As Chief Airport Guide, she was involved in directing student tours, preparing informational materials, responding to media inquiries and assisting the media and public during airport emergencies. Her duties also included assisting civic, business and airport officials in overseas promotions of Los Angeles as a trade and tourism destination. 

Then-Club CEO John Hawkins and Ethel Pattison at the Flight Path Museum, Oct. 2020.

At her retirement, Ethel was Historian and Vice President of the nonprofit Flight Path Learning Center and Museum, which was established in 2003 in the LAX Imperial Terminal to preserve Southern California’s aviation heritage and encourage youths to pursue aviation and aerospace education and careers. She directed cataloging and research in the museum’s archives, including historical documents, photographs, uniforms and other memorabilia, dating from 1928 to the present. She also oversaw Flight Path’s William A. Schoneberger Research Library.

She co-authored a historical reference book, Los Angeles International Airport, part of the Images of Aviation series from Arcadia Publishing Co.

In recognition of Ethel’s significant contributions to LAX and aviation, the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners named the rose garden adjacent to the airport’s Clifton A. Moore Administration Building in her honor. She was awarded the prestigious Los Angeles City Career Service Award in 1991.

Ethel Pattison on the cover of Alive!, October 2020, at her retirement.

Ethel is past national president of the United Airlines Clipped Wings, an organization of former stewardesses and flight attendants, and was honored with distinguished service awards from the national organization and its Los Angeles chapter. She was active with the International Special Olympics, the South Bay Vocational Center for the physically challenged, and USC alumni activities. She was awarded a Youth Service Award by the Manhattan Beach Parks and Recreation Dept.

The Club sends its condolences to her family – her daughter, LeValley, and grandson, Logan – and her friends and former co-workers.

A memorial service was planned in her honor for Oct. 13.