Janet Luft Danford


Janet Luft Danford passed away peacefully on June 19, 2015, at Cypress Village Skilled Nursing Facility in Jacksonville, Florida, after a three year battle with melanoma. She was born on October 9, 1937, in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Elsie and Alan Luft and was predeceased by her father; her step father, Allen G.Rydell; brother, Gregg A. Rydell; her husband, G Gerald Danford; uncle, Herbert Halberg and many wonderful friends including her lifelong friend, Gracie Warmbold. Janet is survived by her mother, Elsie Halberg Rydell; her sisters, Susan Rydell Buchanan, Robin Rydell Einbund and Bruna (Bunny) Luft Dorocke; nephew Jeffrey Rydell and step daughters, Debra Anderson and Denise Pruter.

Janet began her remarkable career with American Airlines in 1958 as a stewardess based in Chicago. From the very beginning she was a leader. She quickly became a supervisor and then a group supervisor at the Los Angeles, California, base and was characterized as fair, honest, and caring by the stewardesses who reported to her. In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, when American Airlines launched the “new” airplanes [at the time], the DC-10 and Boeing 747, Janet was selected to head up a task force to develop the in-flight training programs for the aircraft proving runs and the inaugural flights. Her insight, initiative, and logical approach to a challenge resulted in a smooth transition to the “wide-body age” for not just American Airlines but every airline. Many of American’s procedures and recommendations were quickly adopted by the industry as well as McDonald-Douglas and Boeing. She was asked to head-up the welcoming committee in Los Angeles when the team from the FAA, Safety Committee, and others arrived in LA for the aircraft proving runs. Not only was Janet competent, but she was above all else always gracious and a wonderful hostess.

Janet was promoted to the position of Manager of the San Francisco Flight Attendant Base in early 1970. She lived in Sausalito with her husband, Jerry Danford, until she was tapped again to go to New York as a member of the negotiating team for the upcoming contract between American Airlines and the flight attendant union. Her common sense, extensive personnel experience as well as her interpersonal skills again served her well. Once the negotiations were successfully completed and the contract signed, Janet became the Manager of Flight Service Procedures where she had responsibility for developing the procedures and training for all AA flight attendants and the entire American Airlines fleet.

When American Airlines moved to Dallas, Texas, in 1979 so did Janet and Jerry. While there she was asked to assume leadership of the International Flight Attendant Base. No stranger to new challenges, she was responsible for assuring that American’s entry into these new markets was seamless and competitive with carriers that were already established. She did it with grace and elegance and as importantly making sure the flight attendant’s were always well taken care of when flying to these new, distant destinations. Due to Janet’s leadership and early efforts, American Airlines is still regarded as a quality brand throughout the world.

When Janet and Jerry retired and moved to Sawgrass Country Club in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, Janet’s talents were greatly in demand by a variety of businesses. She developed personnel policy and procedures for a large baggage company amongst others. Later she was recruited by a former president of American Airlines to develop policy, procedures, and training for a start-up airline in Africa. She did just that and in addition worked with the FAA to assure the airline obtained its operating certificate.

Janet accomplished all that she did in a time when women were held back in the workplace and not readily promoted. She did it simply because she had so very much to offer and no one could turn their back on her talents and abilities.

When Janet moved to Florida, she found the time to pursue her interest in gardening and roses. She quickly became a St Johns County Master Gardner and a member of the American Rose Society. She was President of the Jacksonville Rose Society from June 2001 to May 2003, served on the board for eight years, wrote features and articles in Buds and Blooms, showed award winning roses and chaired many rose show committees.

Janet was kind and generous with her terrific organizations skills and many talents. Always a cat lover, she rescued many and found them good homes. Her love of cooking, entertaining, gardening and travel were admired by all who knew her. She would be the first to tell you she had a great life.

Please visit our online Tribute at Services under the direction and care of Quinn-Shalz Family Funeral Home.

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