The big secret in Jean Pages life

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 6, 2006

When this reporter finally caught up with the elusive Jean Page, he was perched on the roof of his home putting up the Christmas decorations.

It was surprising when he climbed down and agreed to an interview on the spot.

The purpose of the interview was to talk about his three very different careers. There is a secret there that Page has not shared with many people.

He served, during the seventies and eighties, as the meteorologist on the White House Support Staff for Presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter.

When asked to describe his job there he explained that his work was in the area of atmospheric research and physics for cruise missiles atmospheric guidance system design.

He was a Major in the Air Force, and although some of his work was plain weather forecasting, the majority of it was classified and had to do with top-secret research and development affecting political decisions.

He gave briefings to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on a daily basis.

Page explained that there was very little levity in these meetings, but he told of one funny incident.

It happened on a morning when he was involved in the briefing of a national emergency.

This particular briefing was held on The President&8217;s National Emergency Airborne Command Post.

The participants had to enter a room at the back of the plane.

They were instructed to enter the room and to shut the door soundly behind them &045; he did &045; the doorknob flew off and hit one of the Generals in the chest.

Page was terrified, but the General, after he got over the shock, went into hysterical laughter.

When asked his favorite of the President, Page reluctantly said, &8220;That&8217;s hard.

Carter was the most personable; Nixon the most businesslike and Ford had the most faith in people.&8221;

Page was in the Air Force twenty years.

Stepping down from such an important job, to many, might be very depressing.

According to him, it was a step into a career that was just as interesting and rewarding.

He had taken early retirement because he wanted to teach kids again.

Before entering the Air Force he had taught for a year. Page taught math and served as assistant principal at Montevallo Middle School for the next fifteen years.

The kids loved him, he loved the kids and he still misses them very much.

Upon leaving teaching, Page lost no time in finding another &8220;career.&8221;

He and his wife, Liz, volunteer with mission organizations of the Baptist Church.

During the last three years more than half their time has been spent traveling in their motor home serving distressed areas. He explained that they help by distributing medicine, food, clothing and doing construction projects.

A trip to Africa is planned for the fall.

He emotionally explained, &8220;It&8217;s impossible to imagine the poverty there &045; things we take for granted, they simply do not have. You have to fill their stomachs before you can teach them about Christ.&8221;

When asked which of the three careers he enjoyed most, Page admitted that being a White House meteorologist was certainly challenging and exciting, but that working with kids is great fun and volunteering in areas of poverty is very satisfying.

Catherine Legg can be reached by e-mail at