Jo Nell Annett enjoyed an adventerous life, which began with a career flying the friendly skies during the 1950s as a stewardess for United Airlines. Based out of San Francisco, she met United Airlines pilot Hal Annett while working there and the couple soon married.
"To be a stewardess at the time, you had to be single, and there were strict codes of behavior," said her son Gregory Annett of Petaluma. "Mom and Dad got married in Carmel one weekend, and when she went to work on Monday, the boss called her into the office to ask about a rumor he heard that she had gotten married. Mom said 'no, that's not true.'"
The "secret" marriage, however, didn't stay a secret for long. A twisted ankle after a flight to Colorado and issues with health insurance coverage due to her new marriage quickly led to the truth coming out, said Gregory. Fortunately, Quantas airlines was planning to open a base out of San Francisco and needed staff.
"She got a job right away with Quantas," said Gregory. "She took the pins off her United Airlines uniform and put the Quantas pins on and began greeting people at the gate."
A Petaluma resident for more than 30 years, Mrs. Annett died after a short battle with cancer on March 31, 2013 at the age of 86.
Mrs. Annett was a native of Texas and moved to California in the late 1940s. She attended stewerdess training in Colorado before reporting for duty with United Airliness at the San Francisco International Airport.
"United Airlines used her in photo shoot for an advertisement for their route from San Francisco to New York," said Gregory.
The Annetts eventually moved to Hawaii after Mr. Annett took a job there as a pilot. In 1967, he was hired by World Airways, and the family moved to Japan. Eleven years later, the family moved to Sonoma County where Mrs. Annett lived for the rest of her life.
She worked as an administrative assistant at Petaluma People Services Center for more than 16 years.
"She was a very strong and adventerous lady," said longtime friend Ortencia Gonzalez, who worked with her at PPSC. "She was my mentor and taught me a lot about work ethics and life — and especially to never be afraid of your boss."
"For so long Jo was the backbone of the agency," said Elece Hempel, executive director of PPSC. "She taught and molded so many of our current staff. She loved process and made sure that we all treated each client with dignity and respect."
"My mom had a deep abiding love for people, the Lord and all the little things in life," said Gregory.
She is survived by her children, Michael Annett of Ariz., Gregory Annett of Petaluma, and Michele Annett of Sonora; grandchildren; and great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by her husband, Hal Annett.
Memorial services were held last week. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Petaluma People Services Center.