This Day in History

This Day in History (1962): First 20-Year Woman to Retire

Barbara St. John traveled from San Francisco to Alaska to the Netherlands to the Kingdom in a wide-ranging career.

This Day in History (1962): First 20-Year Woman to Retire

From the May 30, 1962, edition of The Sun and Flare

Barbara St. John, the first woman to be hired for Aramco's foreign service, received her 20-year pin from retiring vice president W.R. Cooper in a special ceremony held May 27.


Also the first woman to have completed two decades of service with Aramco and affiliated companies, Miss St. John will leave in mid-June on vacation and retire on August 1. She has worked 14 of the 20 years in Saudi Arabia.


Miss St. John was hired by Standard Oil Company of California in June, 1942, to be a stenographer for George Davidson, the head of the Manufacturing Department.


Later she transferred to the San Francisco office of Standard of Alaska as secretary to Milt Lipp, company president.


Early in 1943, she went to Whitehorse, in the Yukon Territory of Alaska, where she worked as a yield clerk for the Canol Project under Walt Schmidt, now resident vice president of Bapco.


When she returned to San Francisco in 1945, George Kellenberg was seeking qualified secretaries to work in Saudi Arabia. The first woman to be hired, Miss St. John left the United States on June 1, 1945, together with the late Carlita Plum, Marge Mitchell (now Mrs. Doug Kelt), Virginia Soares, and Helen Smith.


Her first job was with Bill Eltiste, and the next five years she worked in the General Services, Engineering and Maintenance and construction departments. Transferring ot the New York office in 1951, Miss St. John worked with J. Stirton, who was then recruiting personnel for the Engineering and Construction departments and establishing the Aramco Overseas Company.


In 1953, she was sent to the AOC office in The Hague, where she worked for E.K. Schulze for a year on a recruiting program and setting up office procedures.


Back to Dhahran in 1954, Miss St. John became administrative assistant to Carl Renfer, construction Department manager, a position she held until her transfer in 1960 to Jiddah with Government Relations.


During her career with Aramco, Miss St. John has been very active in community affairs. She was the first woman secretary of the Aramco Employees Association and as an active member of Dramaramco, she was elected to their executive board and assisted in producing plays. She was a frequent contributor to the early "Sun and Flare" and assisted editor Jack Mahoney in publishing the old mimeographed news shet.


For recreation, Miss ST. John has enjoyed golf, swimming, and fishing. On a recent trip to the Red Sea, she was reeling in a barracuda when a shark leaped out of the water and snatched it.


She plans to tour through Europe in a Volkswagen before returning to the United States, where she will live in Seattle, Washington.


Caption for top photo: OLD FRIENDS Bill Cooper and Barbara St. John smile happily after 20-year pin award.


Also on this date

2020 — The Crew Dragon Demo-2 launches from the Kennedy Space Center, become the first crewed orbital spacecraft to launch from the United States since 2011 and the first commercial flight to the International Space Station


1990 Croatian Parliament is constituted after the first free, multi-party elections, today celebrated as the National Day of Croatia


1982 Spain joins NATO


1974 The Airbus A300 passenger aircraft first enters service


1971 "Mariner 9" is launched to map 70% of the surface, and to study temporal changes in the atmosphere and surface of Mars


1959 The Auckland Harbor Bridge, crossing the Waitemata Harbor in Auckland, New Zealand, is officially opened by Governor-General Charles Lyttelton, 10th Viscount Cobham


1958 The remains of two unidentified American servicemen, killed in action during World War II and the Korean War, respectively, are buried at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery


1922 — The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., is dedicated


1911 At the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the first Indianapolis 500 ends with Ray Harroun becoming the first winner of the 500-mile auto race


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