Two Friends Joined by Adventure and Meteorology

Active RetirementCharlotte and Betty have been friends for over 50 years. Their unique journeys have taken them all over the world, leaving them with extraordinary experiences and memories.

Charlotte was in college, majoring in pharmacy, when she joined the Navy and was sent to weather school. This was in 1943 and it was extremely rare for a woman to be involved in meteorology. As Charlotte recalls, “Women really didn’t get into meteorology without the military.”

During her time in the Navy, Charlotte worked in the field of aerography, studying the air and producing reports for the recommendation of safe and unsafe flying conditions. She was stationed at Lakehurst Naval Base in New Jersey, headquarters to US dirigibles (blimps) during WWII.  She was allowed to perform analysis tasks only, as forecasting was restricted to officers.

Around the same time, Betty was beginning her route to meteorology with a set of different circumstances.  After 10 years in accounting, Betty decided to join the Air Force with her eyes on the field of meteorology. “I wanted to know what made clouds. As long as I was making a change, I might as well do something different.”

With so few women in the industry, Charlotte and Betty were bound by common interest and circumstance. Throughout their careers, the two were housemates off and on, as their job locations permitted. Once out of the service, both Charlotte and Betty returned to school, this time majoring in meteorology. Betty earned a bachelor’s degree from UCLA and a master’s from University of Washington. Charlotte received her bachelor’s from University of Washington. Ever since, they’ve made a point to attend many UCLA vs. UW football games.

After college, both women were qualified forecasters destined for very different careers. Charlotte worked for SCRIPPS Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, CA before taking a job with Los Angeles County Air Pollution Control District in the early 50’s. There was a problem emerging in L.A; people were having difficulty breathing from exposure to pollutants in the air. A committee of meteorologists, including Charlotte, was commissioned to forecast levels of pollution in the air and devise an advanced warning system for the public. Charlotte remembers the group discussing ways to communicate danger to the public without the use of scientific jargon. The group decided to coin a new laymen’s term for poor air quality by combining the words “smoke” and “fog”, thereby creating the hybrid word “smog.”

Not many details can be shared about Betty’s work, as most of it was top secret at the time. However, she did study the effects of nuclear waste and worked to develop methods of forecasting these effects 10,000 years from now. The big question she recalls dealing with is “How do you warn whoever or whatever is here in 10,000 years of the dangers of leftover waste?”

When asked what they enjoyed most about their field of work, Betty and Charlotte agree it’s the challenge.

“It was a challenge not only daily but hourly.” – Charlotte

“You had to have a strong ego to stay in the business. You’re out guessing God every day and you’re going to fail about 51% of the time.” – Betty

After busy careers in a common field, Charlotte and Betty retired in Portland and Vegas respectively. Although they spent their careers in varying parts of the country, the two remained close and came together again shortly after retirement. It was then they decided together to make a decision about their future. They shopped around for retirement communities and every place had something of its own but Panorama was the clear choice. What sold it for Betty and Charlotte is the complete continuum of care that allows them to confidently remain in place as they age. So in 1990, at the age of 65, they both moved to Lacey and became Panorama residents.

The two have enjoyed an active and adventurous retirement. Betty was on the Panorama Resident Council for 9 years and Charlotte provided tax aide through AARP for 13 years. They don’t hesitate to take advantage of the many events and trips offered by Panorama’s Lifestyle Enrichment program but their real adventures come from trips of their own. As volkswalkers, “we’ve walked in every state,” plus Canada, Mexico and six European countries. Charlotte and Betty are two prime examples of brave, intelligent women living life to its fullest, well into their 80’s.

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