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Mistress Follows Stoney out Boeing Cockpit

Chicago- The Boeing executive whose romantic relationship with Boeing’s chief executive, Harry C. Stonecipher, led to his ouster, has voluntarily resigned from the company, Boeing said in a statement.

Debra Peabody, a vice president in the Washington office, resigned after an investigation by company lawyers and by outside legal counsel. A notice of Ms. Peabody’s departure was posted on Boeing’s private Web site for employees, although she was not identified by name. “By mutual agreement, neither Boeing nor the former executive is releasing further information,” Boeing said in the posting. The posting also cited the general counsel, Doug Bain, as saying that the executive had “voluntarily left the company.”

Mr. Stonecipher, 68, was forced to resign last week after the board received a tip from an employee that Mr. Stonecipher was having an affair with Ms. Peabody, 48. That tip prompted an investigation of e-mail messages that Mr. Stonecipher had exchanged with Ms. Peabody as well as an examination of corporate expense and travel records for the two.

Last Thursday, Mr. Stonecipher’s wife of 50 years, Joan Stonecipher, filed for divorce in Chicago. In a brief interview with The Chicago Tribune, Mrs. Stonecipher said she was stunned by her husband’s actions. “I’m just as blown away by this as everybody else,” she said.

John Dern, a Boeing spokesman, declined to elaborate on yesterday’s statement or to comment on whether Ms. Peabody, who is divorced and has worked at Boeing for more than 20 years, will forfeit any employment benefits. Mr. Stonecipher, who will remain at Boeing until April, is continuing to earn his $1.5 million annual salary but will not be entitled to a year-end bonus for his work in 2005.

Ms. Peabody joined Boeing in 1980 as an engineer and worked for three years in the London office before returning to the United States in 2001 to the company’s headquarters, then in Seattle. She also worked for Connexion, a Boeing operation that provides high-speed Internet services to aircraft. Before joining the Washington government relations office, Ms. Peabody worked in the office of Boeing’s chairman in Chicago.

The relationship between Mr. Stonecipher and Ms. Peabody began in January after the two met at a Boeing corporate event in California. A call to Ms. Peabody’s home in Virginia was not returned.

Mr. Stonecipher was brought out of retirement 15 months ago to lead Boeing, succeeding Philip M. Condit, who was forced to resign. Mr. Stonecipher’s main task was to restore Boeing’s reputation amid a Pentagon procurement scandal.

As part of that cleanup effort, Mr. Stonecipher required that Boeing’s 150,000 employees sign a code of ethical conduct. It was that code that the Boeing board found Mr. Stonecipher had violated.


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