Bette Nash, age 88, who holds the Guinness World Record for the longest serving flight attendant, has died.

Nicknamed “Nash Dash,” the legendary American Airlines employee began her career in 1957. She was just 21 years old.

She never retired, continuing to fly until a breast cancer diagnosis landed her in hospice.

Bette decided as a young girl that she wanted to work for the airlines, borrowed a dress from one of her sisters, and took a bus from Atlantic City to New York to interview with Eastern Airlines.

According to American Airlines, Nash “fell in love with ‘the spiffy appearances and gracious manners of the crew members.”

As a more senior member of the airline, Bette Nash had plenty of opportunities to work exotic routes, but she chose to be based out of Washington, D.C., and work the shuttle flights to New York and Boston.


Bette Nash’s son, Christian, who survives her, has Down syndrome.

Waking at 2:10 a.m. each day, the schedule allowed her to be home with her family every night for dinner and care for Christian.

Maybe it’s not surprising, then, that Bette said her most memorable passenger wasn’t Jackie Kennedy or countless other celebrities who flew the shuttles over the years.

Instead, she recalled hosting a man in a wheelchair who had been left behind at the gate. She insisted they go back and get him. Not only did Bette push him onboard, but she later fed him because he had no use of his hands.

Nearly 70 years on the job, Bette once said, “My favorite part of flying over the years has been greeting my passengers as they board and deplane. People really are fascinating, and it’s truly been a joy.”

She also added: “One thing that stays the same are the people. Maybe their dress changes, but people have the same needs — a little love and attention.”

A longtime member of Sacred Heart Church in Manassas, Virginia, Nash devoted a lot of her time to working at her parish’s food bank. When American Airlines celebrated her 60th anniversary, the company donated $10,000 to the charity.

As she hit milestone after milestone, she once reflected, “I feel like I’ve been given a gift from God that I can keep going.”

The late Navigator Jim Downing once said that “One of God’s greatest creations was a mother’s heart.” Bette Nash’s story is a testimony to that indominable and tireless devotion.


Image credit: The Arlington Catholic Herald