Growing up in Centerton, AR, Donna Amos was actually born in Chapman, Kansas. Her father purchased Centerton Telephone Company and so that is where her family moved their roots to. She went to middle school in Centerton and high school at Bentonville Public Schools and graduated in 1951. Centerton actually consolidated with Bentonville when she was a freshman in high school. Growing up in a quiet town, she has very fond memories of Arkansas. She married right out of college and did not have the opportunity to go to college. Her husband was part of the draft and joined the army which allowed her to live in Alaska for a few years.
After moving back to Alaska she started working at Peterson’s and began in the Accounting department. The head accountant, right off, took her under his wing and she learned all about how the business worked. This allowed her accounting training to be one on one and very detailed. Being trained in this fashion and learning so much, the knowledge she gained has served her well throughout her life. She soon became Accounting Supervisor of all accounting computers and knew how to run the accounting machines. It was ten years after her working for Peterson’s that the first computer was even purchased. An aptitude test, given by IBM, was given to test the knowledge and logic levels of the employees. Donna was 1 of 5 people given the opportunity to work with the computers and start her programming experience solely based on her score. In her early thirties, she began home study courses, traveled to Little Rock and other IBM school locations to teach her about programming. Her first programs were made with punch cards and had to key punch by hand, which was a much slower form of technology than we see now days. In a primarily male field, she was embarking on a journey where very few women ever dared to go. She ended up being the only one of those original 5 that actual stuck with the programming. This earned her the positions on Manager and eventually the Vice President of Data Processing for Peterson’s. This was a far cry from her first job in the telephone office with her family’s phone company. Her first position at Peterson’s was actually a telephone operator which was given to her because of her previous work experience. She started working part-time and 41 years later retired at a job that she enjoyed and was never boring or monotonous.
She installed the first IBM System-38 in the Arkansas Oklahoma area. The IBM 11-30 was the first computer she ever programmed on in Fortran with some commercial subroutines. After retirement she started teaching for Senior Net at the Benton County Senior Center for 7 years. Her curriculum included Introduction to Computing for older people and a Microsoft Word class. She has also written a manual for Senior Net for creating graphics through Microsoft Word. She has had the opportunity to speak at many events that still had few if any women attending and has stayed very involved in many groups through out her life. Developed a systems flowchart for the programmers working for her to understand how the system works together and would be able to see which files were being impacted by any program. She helped standardize the naming techniques used as well. Among Fortran and ideal and commercial subroutines, Taltoo, RPG and CL were other languages that she needed to learn.
Her family includes her husband, two sons, and four grandchildren. Both sons graduated from the University of Arkansas. The oldest is CPA with oil firm in Tulsa, and the youngest was VP in the computer department at Wal-Mart for 26 years and retired and is now is a service manager for Terradata, a division of NCR and now lives in Rogers. Her oldest granddaughter is a sophomore at Tulsa University, her youngest granddaughter is a freshman at the U of A, and has two 16-year-old grandsons, one in Tulsa and the other in Rogers public schools, which keeps her very busy.
Getting the opportunity to get into the computing field, Donna says, definitely had a huge effect on who she is today and allowed opportunity for her and her family. Having a family in the 50′s, she was able to do something few women were able to do at that time, help her family financially. She considers herself very lucky to be in the right place at the right time and had a knack for the work that she did and was very happy in the opportunities, choices and the career she achieved in computing.