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A father’s perseverance at home and in the air

“Being a single parent of four children while having a career as a flight attendant is challenging but it can be done,” says Charlotte-based Flight Attendant Derrick Killingsworth. “After the passing of my wife, Flight Attendant Cicelette Killingsworth, I had no choice but to start over with a new routine. It was tough, but I wouldn’t be able to do the job I love and take care of my family without the support I receive from my coworkers and family.”

Originally from Greenville, South Carolina, Derrick played football at John C. Smith University where he earned his bachelor’s degree in Early Education. He taught high school students for a little over a year before 9/11 happened. Derrick stopped teaching and joined the United States Navy because it was something he felt compelled to do. He served at sea aboard the USS Philippines out of Mayport, Florida where he was a missile technician and handled the ship’s payroll. After six years, Derrick left the Navy when his oldest daughter was born to be home with her.

Derrick met his wife Cicelette while in college but they lost touch after graduation. Years later, they ran into each other and were married 10 months later. When they reconnected, Cicelette was working as a Piedmont flight attendant based in Roanoke, Virginia and suggested Derrick should consider becoming a flight attendant too. “I had never considered a job in aviation before and was at a place in my life where I needed a different career path,” he reflected. “I decided to give it a try. I liked the idea of traveling and meeting people from around the world.” He joined Piedmont as a flight attendant in 2013 and credits loving the job because of the family atmosphere and culture that the Piedmont team exhibits.

Little did he know that his work family was going to become an invaluable part of his real family. In November 2019, Cicelette’s doctors discovered that she had breast cancer which would later spread to her lungs and brain. While she was receiving cancer treatments, Derrick worked six days a week as a flight attendant to provide for their combined five children. Sadly, she passed away in June 2020.

Due to COVID restrictions, Derrick was not able to have a funeral gathering for his wife. He shares this past Mother’s Day was tough on the family, especially their four-year-old twins. The family will gather to celebrate her life on June 19 at one of Cicelette’s favorite parks.

Derrick acknowledges that it is tough sometimes and that he is grateful to his Inflight managers who have offered support and understanding. “I know they are my supervisors, but they feel like my family,” says Derrick.

It takes a village being a single parent away from home a few days a week, Derrick admits. He has a strong family unit and credits his parents as a major source of assistance while he is away. “You really need a strong support system behind you to make it work with four children at home, one of which has special needs and I’m so grateful for the help and love of my parents,” said Derrick. “This job has taught me great time management skills and how to multi-task numerous things going on at once.” He is proud to share that despite the hours away from home, his children are his proudest accomplishments as his oldest child recently joined the United States Air Force and one of his daughters will be leaving to attend college in the summer.

On this Father’s Day, we want to wish Derrick and the rest of the amazing fathers who work for Piedmont a Happy Father’s Day and to say thank you for all you do for Piedmont.

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