C.J.: Retirement of Delta's oldest flight attendant is not "All About Bob Reardon”

  • Article by: C.J. , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 2, 2014 - 3:33 PM

Delta Air Lines’ oldest flight attendant Bob Reardon was retired Saturday.

“Was retired” seems appropriate because I’m hearing the 90-year-old didn’t want to go.

“I can’t talk,” Reardon told me when I went to his St. Paul residence Monday to find out what’s going on here. Reardon started flying Oct. 1, 1951, when what is now Delta was Northwest Orient.

On Bruce Retrum’s Facebook page, featuring a profile photo of him with Reardon, some are expressing dismay. Retrum, who identified himself as a flight attendant, posted a letter Aug. 25 saying, “The company announced the retirement of Robert Reardon effective August 30, 2014. Rather than a date to celebrate, it marks the end of a 62-year, 8-month career marred by a seven-month stressful and unfortunate ordeal. Robert’s pending retirement was not of his choosing. Robert has made it very clear that he does NOT want any ‘celebrations,’ ‘parties’ or ‘events,’ planned or hosted by the company. They would be inappropriate and insincere. Instead, a gathering of friends, family and supporters will be held to honor and reminisce with Robert when he is ready to do so. The world will most likely never have another ‘Robert-like’ icon.”

Ladyskywriter.com noted in 2013 that Reardon set a Guinness World Record. “Go to page 69, the Oldest category, where you will find Mr. Reardon at the very top of the page with the heading Oldest active flight attendant. Congratulations, Bob! This is a huge honor,” wrote Anne Billingsley Kerr, also known as Lady Skywriter.

Kerr flew with Reardon from 1956 to 1960, when she was forced to quit because she got married — something not required of men.

“I loved flying with Bob,” Kerr told me Monday. “I have a small chapter about him in my book, ‘Fujiyama Trays and Oshibori Towels.’ He is such a unique person. I don’t know what happened at Delta, but he did turn 90 in May and evidently he retired not voluntarily. We all hold him in such high regard it would be just awful if anything blew up on him.”

Although a couple of Reardon’s colleagues concede that he should have retired before now, they object to the way Delta Air Lines handled this departure. Airlines usually make big deals of these kinds of employee milestones. Reardon’s colleagues wanted him feted on a final flight, accompanied by a family member; then, as the plane pulled into the gate, the fuselage would have been drenched by fire trucks, which is a way the end of in-flight crew members’ careers have been honored.

Reardon’s colleagues are also appalled that the big bad airline is allegedly gagging a nonagenarian.

While his co-workers threw a big “All About Bob” party for him for his 60th year of service in 2011, some thought airline management was low-keying it with just cake and hors d’oeuvres. At the time he was purser on the three-day Tokyo flights.

“I’m not surprised,” Reardon told me then. “I don’t know of anyone else who is senior to me at Delta.”

 

Fashion model at 14

Bella Harris booked her first modeling gig.

“She is officially a professional model at 14!” her proud mom, Lisa Harris, tells me. “Our little, tall, model,” said the wife of Jimmy Jam about their only daughter. “She booked her first job over the summer walking the runway for Teen Vogue. Her portfolio is up and running on the www.lamodels.com website. It’s in the early stages, since she has only been there for a few months.

Relax, Wiggins is not hitched

“Thanks for the call. Andrew Wiggins is NOT married,” read my e-mail from Brad Ruiter, Timberwolves VP of Communications.

I didn’t think so.

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