The Connecticut Air & Space Center in Stratford is a very cool place. It’s one of a very few museums of its type in the country located in an original World War II aircraft factory.
Which made it a very fitting destination for Jean Hunt Tucker the other day.
The 1941 Staples High School graduate — who turns 99 in November — traveled from Florida with her daughter and granddaughter to see the Corsair.
There was a good reason: Jean was one of the first female engineers to work at the plant during World War II. Among her projects: the F4U Corsair.
Joan Tucker with the museum’s Corsair.
After Staples she headed to college in Ohio. After Pearl Harbor — a few months later — she returned to this area. She enrolled at Bridgeport State Trade School, to learn drafting.
At 18 she joined the engineering department of Chance Vought Aircraft in Stratford. She was one of very few females; most of the others were secretaries and clerks.
Jane made drawings of parts for electrical installations — without ever seeing the actual equipment. She also worked on fuselages.
Chance Vought sent her to the Academy of Aeronautics, near La Guardia Airport, to train women entering the industry.
Part of the Connecticut Air & Space Center’s exhibit is dedicated to Joan Tucker.
In 1945 Joan entered Northeastern University, as one of its first class of women.
She married in 1949. When the company moved to Dallas, she stayed here. She earned a degree in industrial engineering, and taught math for 38 years in 3 states and 2 foreign countries.
Thank you, Joan, for your service. Many Westport men served — 20% of the Staples Class of 1943 missed their graduation ceremony, as they were already in the military — but we can’t forget the important contributions of Westport’s women either. (Hat tips: Frank Rosen and Len Roberto)
50 Years Ago This Week (September 22, 1973): Officials announced that a $14 million enlargement plan would be sought for Staples High Schoo.
The proposed additions included an array of new athletic facilities such as a skating rink, 2 new baseball fields, and one additional field for soccer and field hockey.
The additions were never built. The “modernization” of 1978-81 — which connected 9 separate buildings — did include new athletic facilities: a fieldhouse and pool. (Hat tip: Fred Cantor)
The “new” Staples, circa 1959. The auditorium (center left) and gym (largest building in the rear) are the only original structures that remain today.
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