Newspaper Clippings for
from the Bell Telephone News January 1950
Career Girl and Farmer at Heart
THROUGHOUT BARBARA POPE'S career runs the
thread of her interest in people. It is not
surprising then to find her in a position that
deals with people. She is assistant secretary
of the Employees' Benefit Committee.
It is one of the top jobs for women in the
company. It is not exactly common for a woman
to hold the job-one other woman has held the
Seated in her very modest private office, one
notices right off the bat several things about
her. There is a sincere, friendly smile, an
easy naturalness of manner, devoid of "business
woman brusqueness," and a well dressed, modish
The Benefit Committee, you remember, is the
group of officials and department heads who
pass on applications for sickness, accident
arid death benefits, and on pensions. It is
Barbara's work, together with that of the other
assistant secretary, G. W. Heywood, and of her
boss, E. M. Brown, secretary of the committee,
to furnish the committee with complete
information regarding the cases. Old cases,
too, are reviewed to see if payments should be
Sometimes Need Rare Judgment
Barbara and the two men also must make a
recommendation. Sometimes that's pretty
automatic. Sometimes it calls for rare judgment
and understanding, and delving into case
histories for a precedent, or calling AT&T in
New York for consultation.
She takes turns with the other two sitting in
on the weekly meetings of the committee,
supplying added information where needed.
Fourteen girls reporting to her assist her in
the clerical work of handling the 200 some
cases weekly, and of maintaining the extensive
files of names.
Some of the problems which come up to her are:
Does a girl on sickness disability still
warrant continued payments? Is the widow who is
receiving death benefit payment a hardship
case-ought she to have extra relief help? Or is
a pensioner a hardship case? Should he have a
Sometimes a problem takes a bizarre turn. There
was the time she had to consider whether the
family of a girl who seemed to have been
drowned was entitled to benefits. The body was
not recovered. Legally, the girl was not dead.
While Barbara rarely deals with an applicant in
person, yet she is working with people and
their problems, and so is happy. Early in her
career, her "humanitarian" phase got detoured
temporarily when she decided her talents were
statistical and majored in economics at Barnard
College, in New York.
But it cropped up again to stay when she took a
position with the Illinois Bell as district
force supervisor for ER District in 1930. Going
over peg counts, supervising force loads for
the central offices, she was working with chief
operators and the girls of the offices. This,
she was finding, this working with the human
element, was what she really wanted. A training
period of two years as special studies clerk in
the general traffic supervisor's office
preceded the job.
Seven years later she landed on the division
force adjustment staff. In 1939 came a period
at the Women's Employment Office, latterly as
interviewer. When a personnel assistant was,
needed in the office of the secretary of the
Benefit Committee, in 1945, they thought of
Barbara Pope. She was given her present
position two years later.
While she knows her job inside and out, her
life has by no means been one-sided.
Consistently, she is secretary of the Chicago
Altrusa Club, the women's service club similiar
to Rotary. She loves the theater. On one
vacation she flew to New York and took in a
show every night.
To Europe Twice
She has traveled all about the country, and
often flies. Her pet vacation was one on which
she camped out and slept in a sleeping bag in
the mountain wilderness country of Oregon.
She has been to Europe twice. The first time
was right after graduation. With another girl,
she rented an uncertain French car and toured
France. The car broke down, and they had to
rent another, no mean feat in itself.
She cherishes the memory of the time their
luggage bounced out of the rumble seat and a
town crier went through the streets of the
village announcing the loss.
She lives in an apartment in Evanston with her
sister. The two do most of their own housework,
and Barbara enjoys cooking.
She is a good golfer, but the game finds
competition for her affections in her beloved
farm. The farm, located near Waukegan, is a
120-acre place left the two girls by their
parents. At present it is rented, but she often
spends week-ends there.
When she was three years old, her lawyer
father's health failed, and the family moved to
Mississippi for a time. They purchased the farm
on their return north, and Barbara lived on it
about four years.
Asked whether she knew farming, whether she
could milk a cow, she laughed, "Well, I know
the general principle."
She plans to build a modern house on the place
in a couple of years. It will be wonderful for
week-ends, and some distant day, she may retire
"I guess I'm a farmer at heart," she concluded.