This Woman Began Working On Boeing Assembly Lines In 1942

93-year old Elinor Otto helped build warplanes during World War II.

NBC News
In today's economy, workers are lucky if they can stay in the same job or career for more than a year. And then there are people like 93-year old Elinor Otto, who works in the same place she did 71 years ago. Otto works in production for the Boeing Company in their assembly plants in California, and was recently featured by the Los Angeles Times. These days she works on the construction of C-17 cargo planes. She first found work for Boeing back in 1942 helping to build aircraft for the war effort when men were sent overseas.

Her streak with Boeing has not been without interruptions; after World War II, she briefly tried office work but found it unappealing. And her pay has also increased as well, from 65 cents an hour in the 40s to the roughly $38 an hour she makes now, according to NBC News. But there are some constants through Otto's working life. She's still a recognized ace with a rivet gun that's needed for production, for one.

The work ethic of one of the original "Rosie the Riveter" girls -- the nickname given to women who worked in factories during World War II -- is also still intact. Each day she gets up at 4 AM for her job at the plant in Long Beach, Calif. And even though her colleagues see her as an inspiration, she doesn't see anything spectacular about her story.

"I'm a working person, I guess. I like to work," she told NBC's Nightly News. "I like to be around people that work. I like to get up, get out of the house, get something accomplished during the day."

Otto and her fellow "Rosies" have been recognized by the local community. The city of Long Beach recently opened the "Rosie the Riveter" Park near the former Douglas Aircraft Co. plant, where the women worked during World War II.

For her part, Otto says she's stayed on in the workforce for so long to help support her family. She's now a great-grandmother and once helped her own mother out, too. But she's as concerned with keeping herself occupied. "When I go to heaven," she told the LA Times, "I hope God keeps me busy."

Increasingly, Americans past the age of 65 are looking to reenter the workforce, as AOL Jobs has reported. In fact, about 7.2 million Americans who were 65 and older were employed last year, a 67 percent increase from a decade ago, as AOL Jobs has also reported.

That choice is of course a result of the economic instability of the recent years. And just like everyone else, Otto is being forced to cope with the consequences of an economy in transition. With sales slipping, the Air Force ended its relationship with the Long Beach Plant. Boeing said it will soon make a decision about the future of the plant.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:


October 02 2013 at 11:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

That is truly remarkable. I once worked for the Lazy B but for only 3 years. I don't understand how people can do the same thing over and over and over...But my hat is off to her. A true American inspiration, she is. I'd like to hear about her when she hits the century mark. Good luck to ya, Elinor!

October 02 2013 at 10:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Paul Robert Powell

We have one that beats that! she has been here 73 years! and is 94.........

October 02 2013 at 1:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I retired at age 74 last year. I would have continued to work but throat cancer surgery (I'm cancer free now) made it difficult to communicate, so decided to retire on 100% medical disability pension five years after my surgery. So, to keep me busy I ride horses every weekend and ride motorcycles when I can. (I own 12)

September 29 2013 at 8:20 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to EddieLo's comment
Koran=Murder book

We love you EddieLo. I would like to work as long as I can, but none of us can control things like what you got. I'll be praying for you Eddie, you are an inspiration.

October 02 2013 at 9:22 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The author didn't do his research and this article wasn't updated. Boeing announced last week that the C-17 production was ending in 2015.

September 27 2013 at 2:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Search Articles

Picks From the Web