NEW ORLEANS — Elna Koval Kammler, a longtime administrative assistant in The Associated Press’ New Orleans bureau who won an AP Gramling Spirit Award and was affectionately referred to as the “bureau mama,” has died. She was 92.
Kimberly Kammler said her mother died Wednesday after contracting the flu and pneumonia.
Kammler worked for the AP for 25 years, retiring in 2007 at the age of 82.
In 2000, she won a $3,000 spirit award for exceptional and enthusiastic service to the staff, members, subscribers and clients.
She opened her home near the St. Charles Avenue parade route to staffers and other friends every Mardi Gras until she sold the house in 2006.
Kammler was a Capital Airlines “air hostess” in the early 1950s. She became interested in the job when, while working in the airline’s ticket office in the late 1940s, her supervisors asked her and other workers if they were interested in working aloft and took them on a demonstration flight, daughter Alison Thompson said.
“They took them over New York city in a DC-3,” Thompson said. “She said it was just magical, looking at all the lights. She was hooked.”
Kammler left the job after marrying oil and gas producer and consultant Albert Kammler in December 1953. Albert Kammler died in 1993.
In addition to Thompson, Elna Kammler is survived by three other children — Christopher Albert Kammler, Kimberly Kammler and Tracey Tower — and 14 grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held after Mardi Gras, but the date has not yet been set, Kimberly Kammler said.