A Late Blooming Rose
Vol.5 Issue 8
Rose Ashley working in the job she had always dreamed of having – the Branch Manager position for the Instrument Landing & Antenna Support Branch in the FAA’s Logistics Center.

As part of the FAA’s Combined Federal Campaign efforts, it’s important to know where your money goes and whom it helps. Domestic violence affects millions of women and men. Nearly three out of four Americans personally know someone who is, or who has been a victim of domestic violence. Here’s the story of one courageous FAA employee who broke free from abuse.

Many children are asked, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" As adults, we have an opportunity to reflect on this, because our life’s paths take us in many different directions. But for one FAA employee, this question wasn’t even in the realm of possibility when her young adult life began.

Rose Ashley grew up destitute in rural Oklahoma. She was the third youngest of twelve children and began working in a restaurant when she was just 13 years old. When her father was on his death bed with cancer, he summoned Rose to come and be with him at the hospital. He told her, "You are the strongest among your siblings. You’ve got to take care of the family and make sure that everybody stays together." Rose knew about responsibility and wanted to fulfill her father’s wishes. She promised she would do whatever she could to keep her family together.

Little did she know how drastically her life was about to change. Three months after losing her father, she met a man that convinced her to marry him, only later to find that he was an abusive alcoholic. She stayed in the relationship, hoping things would eventually change, but four children and eleven years later, nothing changed. Rose was doing everything she could to make ends meet.

Rose with the loves of her life…her four children.

She lived on food stamps and welfare. Having no car or phone, she survived on only $200 a month. Eventually, Rose had a caseworker that advised her to attend weekly Al-Anon meetings. (Al-Anon is a worldwide recovery program for families and friends of alcoholics). After attending several meetings, she began to feel like a valuable human being again, gaining strength of self, and the power of faith. While in Al-Anon meetings, Rose was introduced to what was called a "God Box." (This is a technique from the 12-Step Program. It’s a helpful way of letting go of worry by writing down issues that are of concern, and then placing the paper in the God Box, thereby relinquishing control to a higher power). Rose immediately filled her God Box with many slips of paper, making a pact with God, that if some of these prayers could be answered, she would strive for a better life.

Rose eventually got a divorce, and at the age of 27 earned her General Education Development (GED) certificate. She continued her education at the Caddo Kiowa Technology Center in the Electronics program. She studied under the instruction of Terry Wright, who became her mentor and advocate. Having understood Rose’s background, he saw that there was something special about her. "Regardless of her tough past, Rose refused to be disheartened," explains Wright. Rose emphasizes that it was Wright who made the biggest impact on her life. "The soldering technique that Mr. Wright taught me was one of the best. It gave me an advantage over many others, and my method became known as the right way to solder," says Rose. "Many of the electronic skills and principles that I learned about test equipment and soldering, I still apply to this day." Rose’s tenacity ’to do better’ resonated with a lot of the counselors and teachers. Through their own generosity, they saw to it that Rose received plastic surgery to remove the physical scars that she incurred during her marriage.

Over time, slips of paper continued to be slowly removed from Rose’s God Box, as she embarked on extending her education. Rose enrolled at Metro Technology Center’s Aviation Campus to study Avionics, and eventually obtained a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) certification.

Rose in the Instrument Landing System area, working on Mark1F Exciters in 2008.
Rose (right) with her colleague, Dean Dewey restoring and recabling the Localizer Distribution Unit.

One of the pieces of paper in Rose’s God Box stated that she wanted "to earn a job before the age of 30." With her new credential, she was ready to apply for a real job. In 1994, she was hired as an Electronics Technician at the Mike Monroney Aeronautical Center. Soaking the experience up like a sponge, she took in everything she needed to know about antennas and Instrument Landing Systems (ILS). Rose reflects, "Technicians were being moved around. They needed someone to replace the technicians who repaired the antennas on the roof of the Warehouse. I was the first one to volunteer. My manager at the time was glad that I did, because no one else wanted to do it. Since I worked with all men, they didn’t want a ’gal’ to show them up, so others began to volunteer as well!" No one has ever been more proud to have a job. Rose earned the respect of all of her team members, and jokingly says, "You’d better be nice to me. One day I might be your boss!" No truer words were spoken. Now, after 25 years with the FAA, Rose worked her way up from a GS-4 to the position of Branch Manager of the ILS and Antenna Support Branch (AML-7020). "Every step/grade has been a major accomplishment for me," says Rose.

Quite the baker of these coveted morsels, Rose shares the chocolate-chip, pecan & oatmeal cookies with her colleagues.

Rose has thoroughly enjoyed performing ILS restoration projects, fabricating cables, refurbishing antennas, and supporting ILS electronics equipment. She loves collaborating with engineers, shop technicians, and field technicians. "We get the opportunity here at the Logistics Center to work on the equipment that is returned from the field. My team takes great pride in the work they do, sending quality products back to serviceable stock. It is our job to keep operational assets ready for use in the field. These experiences have given me so much respect for the technicians in the field. They are working under different pressures, deadlines, and challenges than we face here in Oklahoma City. They don’t get the opportunity to work with the systems on a daily basis like we do. When there is an issue with the equipment, they have to work fast to get the systems up and running for the flying public. Having serviceable assets in stock helps the field technicians do their job," shares Rose. She adds, "This is the role I play in the FAA world. Without the right parts working properly, those planes won’t land. I hope they [fellow technicians] know how much I appreciate them, because together, we share an important responsibility."

In her personal life, one of Rose’s favorite hobbies is baking. She has a special cookie recipe that her youngest daughter gave to her. It’s very special because her daughter also fell victim to the hands of an abuser - but did not survive. Today, Rose makes these cookies in honor of her daughter. But when she makes them, she doesn’t make the usual dozen or two; she makes 16 to 17 dozen cookies! It’s a labor of love, and Rose sells the cookies - donating the proceeds to a Shelter for Domestic Violence.

Rose delights in spending time with her family. An answered prayer, as Rose cooks for her 100+ family members every Thanksgiving.
Rose Ashley, a person who knows the value of hard-work, goal-setting, and answered prayers.
Rose (standing 2nd row, far right) at her happiest, with her family.
Rose with her daughter Stacey.

Rose grew up before she knew of the options in her life. But despite the odds, she’s fared well as a public servant, humanitarian, and valued employee of the FAA’s Logistics Center. While she might be a late bloomer, one thing is for certain… Rose is one tough cookie.

Rose has been happily married for 24 years and has 9 grandchildren. Her greatest joy is hosting an annual Thanksgiving meal at her home, serving over 100 much-loved family members. She has kept her promise to her Father, and for the last 23 years, her family gathers together on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. They started out with 42 members and have grown to over 100. Rose is convinced that she has many Angels, including her Father and her Daughter, shining their love down on all of them.

If you are worried about someone who has a drinking problem, please contact: Al-Anon

If you are experiencing or know someone who is experiencing domestic violence, please contact the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-7233

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