September 22: Beatrice Aitchison (1997)

Beatrice Aitchison was a pioneer government career woman and also Epiphany’s first female vestry member. Aitchison was born in Oregon and raised in Washington, D.C. She was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Goucher College, and she received a master’s degree in economics from the University of Oregon and master’s and doctoral degrees from Johns Hopkins University. In 1942, Aitchison began her long and distinguished career as a transportation economist with the U.S. government. In 1961, she was one of six women, chosen from a field of more than 25,000, who were awarded the government’s first Federal Woman’s Award for their careers in government. At the time of the award, Aitchison was transportation branch chief in the Post Office Department, the highest-ranking woman to ever serve in that department.

When Beatrice Aitchison began her government career in Washington, she joined her father and stepmother as an Epiphany parishioner. Having sung in church choirs since she was a teenager, Aitchison joined Epiphany’s choir. When her stepmother died in 1944, the funeral was held at Epiphany. Similarly when her father died in 1962, the funeral was at the church. An etched stained glass window, featuring King David, was placed in the rear of the church in his memory. At Epiphany’s annual meeting held on April 15, 1963, the church broke a 121-year trend and elected Beatrice Aitchison as its first female vestry member.

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