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LEAVING ON HER TERMS; AEROSPACE ADMINISTRATOR PLANS TO RETIRE.

Byline: Jim Skeen Daily News Staff Writer

Like John Elway and Michael Jordan, Lorraine Sadler - the first lady of Antelope Valley aerospace - is going out on top and on her terms.

Sadler, an administrative assistant who has served all 17 commanders of Air Force Plant 42 over a 41-year career, will retire in August.

``I wanted to do things my way. The time is right,'' Sadler said. ``A former commander (Mario Cafiero) told me you want to retire when you are happy with the commander. You want to go out while you're still enthusiastic.''

During her time at Plant 42, Sadler has seen scores of first flights of top military aircraft, from the XB-70 to the B-2 stealth bomber; helped organize community projects, including relief efforts for Hurricane Andrew victims and the staging of the annual ``Salute to Youth'' career fair; and has served as a walking history of the installation.

To celebrate her career, a street on Plant 42 was renamed Lorraine Sadler Circle and the Palmdale Chamber of Commerce announced Friday that Sadler will become their first Antelope Valley Business Advocate of the Year award winner.

The Palmdale chamber award, given because of her behind-the-scenes service to Plant 42, will be presented Aug. 13 to coincide with Sadler's retirement.

``All 17 (Plant 42 commanders) have appreciated the fact that without Sadler, it would have taken the collective talents of a much larger staff to accomplish their mission,'' read the chamber's statement announcing the award. ``An example of this appreciation was demonstrated last October when the first commander, Lt. Col. Robert Green, who hadn't seen her since 1959, returned to personally convey his thanks for her tireless support and selfless dedication.''

Sadler said she plans to stay involved with Plant 42, working with the committee for the annual aerospace worker recognition dinner, the Salute to Youth career fair, and on putting together a comprehensive history of Plant 42.

``(The history) needs to be preserved,'' Sadler said. ``This place is one in a million.''

Sadler, 65, is part of the small government staff that runs an installation with about 9,500 defense workers - the second-largest center of employment in the Antelope Valley, behind the 14,000-employee work force of Edwards Air Force Base.

Plant 42 is where the B-1 and B-2 bombers were built and is the home for modification and repair programs for such aircraft as the F-117 stealth fighter and the U-2 spy plane.

Sadler's official title is administrative assistant, but to Air Force Plant 42 commanders since 1958, she has been an organizer, consultant, press secretary and, at times, a mom.

``She is one of those people who are both irreplaceable and priceless,'' said Lt. Col. Bob Catlin, commander of Plant 42. ``I knew she was special from Day One.''

Catlin recalled how taken his parents were with Sadler as she helped with the preparations for the change-of-command ceremony in January 1998.

``My parents said, `Thank you for being here for our son,' '' Catlin said.

Sadler was born in Plainfield, N.J., to parents who had fled persecution in what is now Iran. In the 1950s, her family moved to Modesto, where her parents established a vineyard.

After attending Modesto Junior College, she went to work as a secretary at Castle Air Force Base near Merced. She met her husband, Bill, at Castle when she stopped to ask him for directions on her way to her interview.

Sadler moved to Palmdale in 1956 when her husband took a job with Convair Aircraft, which was building F-102 fighters. A year later, at age 22, Sadler was hired as an assistant to the commander.

She left the installation in June 1960 - about midway through the tenure of Lt. Col. B.A. Hurlbut, the second commander - to have her second child. Sadler then went to work as a command staff secretary at Edwards Air Force Flight Test Center.

Sadler returned to Plant 42 in 1964 when Joe Davies - now a Palmdale councilman, then an Air Force colonel and the third plant commander - convinced her to come back.

``I've been fortunate to be promoted without leaving my desk,'' Sadler said. ``I'm thankful I recognized this is where I should stay.''

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PHOTO (Color) One of the honors recently conferred upon Lorraine Sadler has been the renaming of a street on Plant 42, her workplace.

Shaun Dyer/Special to the Daily News
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 15, 1999
Words:732
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