How would you describe a woman who is highly educated, served honorably in the US Air Force, became an adjunct professor, a systems trainer in sophisticated computer and software, a seamstress, a member of a choir, and a test-kitchen baker in two words? Jeanette McGillicuddy of course!
Jeanette’s path of excellence took her from Minnesota and on to South Dakota, New Hampshire, to Mississippi, Massachusetts, and back to St Paul and then Chaska. Undergraduate studies at the University of South Dakota fueled Jeanette’s passion for math and sciences. After joining the US Air Force, she was one of two women selected to teach communications at Kessler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi. She later transferred to Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford, MA where she aided in establishing military microwave communications through Europe during the early 1970s. Sadly, the US Air Force’s policy towards pregnant women in uniform was not equitable, so Jeanette was forced to leave the Air Force when her daughter was born. (Another woman officer, Susan Struck, sought legal action against the Air Force for this unequal treatment, was defended by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and eventually prevailed.)
With the GI Education benefits, Jeanette pursued two Masters’ degrees and became professor at two colleges in New Hampshire, teaching in her areas of expertise - math and computer sciences. Being on the front end of computer science, she helped the colleges develop and expand their fiber optic connection that allowed both faculty and students critical access to the college’s educational programs. She later became a consultant and travelled throughout the U.S., training organizations to manage their telecommunications technology.
Returning to MN to help in the care of her mother, Jeanette joined Medtronic and implemented two new information systems for the company. She developed the systems to communicate with staff throughout the organization. She was later placed in charge of training when companies were acquired and when growth of the company demanded more efficient systems.
Jeanette’s background in computer sciences coupled with her ability to guide and teach made her the perfect partner in the process of implementing and improving the information system at the History Center. Jeanette has also contributed significantly to developing a successful process for establishing our exhibits. The accompanying photo shows Jeanette with her homemade replica of a pioneer dress used in the “Why Chaska?” exhibit.
The Chaska Historical Society is very grateful that Jeanette joined the other talented volunteers working at the History Center and her willingness to serve on the Board of Directors.
By Sarah Carlson for the Chaska Historical Society