Where are the ones who have gone before us?

Celeste and John H. Patton

We have parts of the story of Olive Beech, of Beechcraft's partnership with Morane-Saulnier, of the jets sold and the lives they touched, but what about the people Olive gave these pictures to? Who were they and why was she giving them these pictures? Were they potential buyers? Friends of Mrs. Beech? Or was it at an event like a benefit?

John Hastings Patton was born in 1912 in Mercer County, Ohio. Celeste Patton née Harrington was born in 1905, and would marry Mr. Patton in Tulsa in 1938. He would serve as a Chaplain in the Air Force in WWII before spending the rest of his life in the I70 corridor between Salina and Kansas City. 

 The Patton's marriage license.

The Patton's marriage license.

In 1950, John Patton re-enlisted as an Air Force Chaplain.

 From the Kansas City Times, September 22, 1950.

From the Kansas City Times, September 22, 1950.

He must have left the Air Force around 1956, because there are no newspaper mentions of him after re-enlisting and before 1956. After his return, he taught religion and headed the Westminster (Presbyterian) Fund at the University of Kansas. As a part of this, he and his wife participated in a trip which became known for challenging segregated living in the South:

So far, between 1956 and 1960, I have found no newspaper articles that indicate an association between either John or Celeste and Olive Beech. There is a chance that John and Olive met via the United Way as many news clippings mention Olive Beech and Beechcraft's United Way goals, and if the United Fund referenced in this article is an early version of the United Way it offers another possible overlap:

 From the Lawrence Daily Journal World, August 7, 1956.

From the Lawrence Daily Journal World, August 7, 1956.

Another possibility is that Celeste and Olive knew each other via one of Celeste's social engagments. Articles consistently indicate Celeste was busy in the community, being involved in the Federated Club of Lawrence and the Business and Professional Women's Club (my personal bet for where the connection lies) among others.

So far, it's not clear why the Patton's were given these photos. Were the pictures meaningful to Olive Beech or were they surplus given in support of a charity benefit? Did the Patton's really know Mrs. Beech or was it a short encounter in which the pictures were exchanged? If it were the former, it seems the bonds of friendship do not preserve as well as the papers I've been searching.

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