Please take time today to stop and think of our veterans and their families. We are proud to have AFA-CWA members among our ranks who are veterans. Those who raise their hands to serve for all of us, along with their families who sacrifice to support them, deserve our full attention and gratitude today.
Happy Veteran's Day.
In Loving Memory of a Fallen AFA Hero
It is with great sadness that we tell you of the passing in late October of our friend and flying partner, Darby Elkins.
Darby was, first and foremost, a dear friend to many. She was a person we knew we could count on, whether on an airplane or in our personal lives. She was a giving person, and always put everyone else’s needs ahead of her own. She channeled that generous, caring spirit first into a nursing career, then at United and in her work with AFA-CWA.
Working with Darby was always a pleasure. She worked hard, but still managed to show her caring spirit to both flying partners and passengers. Whether she was the purser or working any other position, she always did it with a high degree of excellence. She had a way of asking you to do something that made you want to please her because she asked so nicely. She fully supported her flying partners on and off the airplane. She was a lot of fun on layovers too. Japan layovers would often include a movie she brought to share, along with a bottle or two of nice wine and some munchies to go along with it.
Darby spent many years as a union activist in a variety of positions. She believed in the union and in the representation provided by it. During the pilot’s strike in 1985 Darby could be found walking the picket line, staffing strike headquarters or supplying food and drink for both. During contract negotiations, when informational picketing took place, Darby was there.
Her most effective and rewarding work proved to be as a grievance representative. She gave the same effort to every case she handled, from the very minor to the most serious termination situations, and she earned the respect of United’s management by always maintaining a professional attitude and aptitude in grievance hearings. And yet, she had a delightful sense of humor and an infectious laugh, with a devil of a snicker in her smile when she thought of something to present in a hearing that usually put management on their heels. Local council officers came to rely on Darby’s experience and expertise and rewarded her by presenting her with a special award for being the Volunteer of the Year.
Darby’s generosity extended to other areas as well. In 2000, the local council formed a team to participate in the Revlon Run/Walk for Breast Cancer. Darby was a part of that original team, and for the next twelve years she walked with our team to raise money for that worthy cause. She often showed up with various treats to fuel the team before running or walking the 5K course. Often those treats were Starbucks Frappuccinos and Krispy Kreme donuts putting the team on a real sugar high.
More personally, when her friends needed help, Darby was there. If you needed $5 for lunch, she would give it to you. If you needed a ride somewhere, she would offer to drive even though it would take her way out of her way. Need appetizers for a party? She would bring the most delicious cheeses she could find. Need a few hundred dollars to fix your car? Darby would lend it to you. She provided home care when you had your hip replaced. She brought you soup when you were sick. She used her medical expertise to recommend that you might want to have your doctor “check that out,” and what questions to ask your doctor. She kept vigil with you as your husband passed away.
Darby was a giver. But she was never comfortable letting others do things for her. She was never comfortable if you paid her a compliment, or gave her a gift for no reason. And she never wanted to be a burden to anyone. A few of us were aware that in the last few years of her life Darby had two heart attacks. She didn’t share that with too many people. And it seemed that her health issues may have caused her to withdraw from the friends who loved her. She didn’t ever want us to worry or fuss over her so, one by one, we lost contact with her. That was her choice and, as her friends we had to honor that decision. But we have missed her.
Now we have lost her, and we are sad. No services are planned at this time. We will have to take comfort in our memories of her. Maybe you had a remarkable trip with her or a really special layover experience. Did you do the 5K with her? Ever go to lunch and a movie on a day off? Did she ever represent you in a hearing? Did she possibly save you from being fired? Remember those special things. And if you care to, share your stories with her family. She is survived by her brother Larry, sister and brother-in-law Shirley and Bob McGarry, niece Megan McGarry and nephew Shawn McGarry.
Cards and notes are welcome and can be sent to:
The McGarry Family
1624 Primrose Avenue
Beaumont, CA 92223