Drafting Airplanes -- and a Boeing Family Tree

By Margaret Winnie Cooley

August 2016

I grew up in Seattle in West Green Lake. After graduation from Lincoln High School in 1951, I became one of the few female "draftsmen" at Boeing. I completed the Boeing Drafting School in 1952 and began work on the B-52 at Plant 2, where I met my husband of 52 years, Ralph. He was an electrical engineer from upstate New York, who retired from Boeing after 40 years and passed in 2005.

Almost every member of my family has worked or is working for Boeing, from my father to my youngest son, Douglas. My father, from London, worked as a tool and die maker. Four out of five of my children and many of their spouses have worked or are still working for the company. My current husband, Bill, also worked for the company for many years as an engineer.

John, my first child, is the only child who hasn't worked at Boeing. He is currently vice president of Operations, North America, for a worldwide ticket agency. After John was born, I became a stay-at-home mother. Soon after, I had four more children in nine years! Yvonne, my oldest daughter, was a commercial airplane drafter and is now a teacher in the Mukilteo School District; Jeanne is a 787 manufacturing operations analyst; Suzanne is a 767 tech designer; and Douglas is a 777X, 787 structures lab technical lead engineer.

In 1971, when the Boeing Supersonic Transport, or SST, was canceled, I started to work outside the home again, part time. My husband encouraged me to go back to drafting -- but first, I wanted to update my skills. So I went back to school at Lake Washington Vocational Technical School to study electrical and electro-mechanical drafting -- specifically electronic circuit board drafting. Boeing hired me back in 1975.

Drafting electronic circuit boards from electrical schematics at that time was still on vellum, with black tape for the components and red or blue tape for the wires. In the early 1980s, as the computer age began, I created electronic circuit board drawings using the Computer Vision program on a computer in a large climate-controlled room with very large servers at Boeing in Everett.

Ultimately, I became proficient on the Intergraph Computer Aided Design Program to draft electronic circuit boards in a Commercial Airplane Packaging group in Everett.

In 1995, I retired after 20 years with Boeing to participate in Masters Swimming and church and to enjoy my 10 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. We are a proud Boeing family with over 250 Boeing service years. Thanks to the Boeing Drafting School and a push from my older brother Fred, a UW mechanical engineer who said, "Just put a line down on paper to start and you will do fine," and also to my husband Ralph, as well as to all of my family for encouraging and supporting me as a drafter for The Boeing Company.