The Stonecipher/Boeing Affair

Harry and Joan Stonecipher have been married for 50 years but did the fact that they didn’t celebrate their 50th anniversary in the same style they celebrated their 40th mean all was not right in the Stonecipher marriage? Did Joan know Harry was cheating before someone exposed the affair and ended his career with Boeing?

So who “blew the whistle” on the affair? Did it come from a disgruntled employee at Boeing wanting to stir up trouble? Did it come from the “other woman,” another Boeing employee? Or, was Joan Stonecipher, the betrayed wife, the whistle-blower?

According to a newspaper account, an unidentified Boeing worker went to Boeing executives about correspondence he (or she) had seen between Stonecipher and the female employee, alleging that the woman’s career and/or salary had been favorably influenced by her involvement with Stonecipher.

Boeing’s investigation found the specific allegations to be untrue but Stonecipher acknowledged that he was having an affair with the woman and at that point, with the affair out in the open, there was little Boeing could do but call for his resignation.

Why did Boeing Co. force Stonecipher to resign (as opposed to firing him which would have caused him to lose his retirement package) but not the woman with whom he was having an affair? If his act was worthy of him losing his job, wasn’t hers worthy of the same penalty? Does this give the message that the man’s “crime” is worse than the woman who gets involved with a married man?

Or, had Stonecipher been divorced or widowed, would exposure of his involvement with a female employee been as devastating to his career? Or, if Stonecipher had been involved with someone outside of Boeing, would his career with them still be over? Was adultery the issue? Or just adultery between two Boeing employees, one who happened to be in the top position?

Harry Stonecipher’s career has ended on a very sour note. He and his wife live in a waterfront home in St. Petersburg, Florida, that they paid $1.6 million for in 2000 and then spend another $2-million to upgrade. They own a penthouse condominium in the same county, and a condominium in Chicago where Harry Stonecipher spent the majority of his time when he returned to work for Boeing in December 2003. One can only speculate which residence will end up being Harry Stonecipher’s permanent residence and whether or not Joan Stonecipher will be living there with him.

This story is certainly far from being over for the Stoneciphers. Now that it has become national news, Joan Stonecipher will have decisions to make, perhaps decisions she would not have made had the affair remained undercover and just a nasty little secret she may have wished would quietly go away.

What a sad way to celebrate 50 years of marriage.