Celebrating Women in History: Brabandt was quick, resourceful, and well-respected

Job opportunities in the midst of the Depression were rare ― rarer still for women. And that is what makes Alma Brabandt unique. She joined Louisville Water in 1930. Sparse records indicate that she was possibly one of only eight women who worked at the company that year.

Most of these women were single, in their early 40s, and did clerical work. A couple were more highly trained, operating the addressograph (a labeling machine) and working as stenographers. Brabandt arrived with more than 16 years experience as a stenographer after working for several other companies in town.

Born in 1899, Brabandt spent the majority of her life living with her parents at 3625 W. Broadway and stayed in the house years after their death. This longtime family home was located next to Engine Company 22 at 37th and W. Broadway. Both buildings still exist.

Brabandt’s father worked as a butcher his entire life. It appears her sister, Alice, four years younger, never took up a career. She and Alma often graced the society pages, attending parties and hosting guests at home.

Brabandt continued working but often traveled with her family, including driving to Martinsville, Indiana with her mother for a two-month stay, taking a boat to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, and driving with her sister to Lookout Mountain.

Brabandt was well liked and respected at Louisville Water. She was the stenographer for Chief Engineer John Chambers. When he died in 1937, he included her in his will. She received $250. Two other employees each inherited $100.

She likely worked for Chambers’ successor, L. S. Vance, and ended her career as a private secretary for engineer B. E. Payne, retiring in January 1966. The company newsletter at the time, Facts Unfiltered, reported that “she had the reputation of being able to put her hands on any information the ‘boss’ asked for in a moment’s notice.”

Three years later, Brabandt and several other Louisville Water retirees organized a luncheon where the accompanying photograph was taken. She passed away in 1990.