Woman gave up Navy for motherhoodShellea Altman gave up a good career to become a stay-at-home mother and hasn’t regretted it.
By: Jon Echternacht, Hudson Star-Observer
Shellea Altman gave up a good career to become a stay-at-home mother and hasn’t regretted it.
Altman earned a dental degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City then went immediately into the U.S. Navy where she attained the rank of commander in the dental corps before making the decision to devote her life to the home front.
“I thought I was a career person,” she said during a recent conversation in her comfortable Hudson home, “but once I had kids the whole maternal thing kicked in and I wanted to be home with my kids.”
“I loved dentistry and I loved the Navy,” Altman said.
She was in Navy when her first child, Charlie, was born on Aug. 28, 1995, in Hawaii, and her second, Katie, on Feb. 8, 1998, in Washington, D.C.
When she and her husband, Chip, a Navy pilot, decided to have a third child, it was time to make a decision on her future in uniform. She was a civilian when youngest son R.J. was born seven years ago.
“Chip was stationed in Israel as the naval attaché and I was non-military and six months pregnant when the Gulf War broke out,” Altman said. She and her two children were evacuated with other civilians back to the States.
Altman, who graduated from high school in St. Peters, Mo., earned her dental degree in 1998.
“I didn’t plan on the Navy. Then a recruiter came to campus. I was single, a woman, in debt with no family practice to return to so it was a very good thing,” she said.
Her first duty station was Long Beach, Calif., as a young lieutenant for a year then she was assigned to Japan. “Here I was, half way around the world and didn’t know anybody,” she said.
Then one day at the officer’s club she made the acquaintance of the dashing young pilot, Charles “Chip” Altman.
“I was going into Japan and he was leaving for another assignment,” she said. For the two years she was stationed in Japan, the couple maintained a “very long distance” relationship.
Finally, they got married back in the states at a civil ceremony on July 31, 1990, just before Chip was to be deployed again.
“We had the official wedding and the exactly one year later, we had the wedding ceremony with relatives and friends,” she said.
Chip retired from the Navy last summer and the family moved to Hudson. Shellea’s parents are Roger Miller and the former Katherine “Jerry” Buttke of North Hudson who are 1955 Hudson High School graduates.
She is still getting settled, but enjoys the less hectic pace of Hudson where it’s easier to shuttle her kids to various activities. She also enjoys being near relatives.
“I was blessed with easy pregnancies and deliveries,” Shellea said, “and Chip made it back for every birth.” She admitted to having induced labor with the last child to match up with a one-week leave her husband had from overseas.
Now she seems very content to maintain the household, while Chip pursues a Ph.D. in education at the University of Minnesota, and watch over her three offspring in the Hudson school system. Charlie, 15 is in ninth grade, Katie, 13, is a seventh-grader and R.J. is in first grade.
She said she has kept her DDS license current but hasn’t really pursued what will be necessary to practice dentistry in Wisconsin. Continuing a career in dentistry is on the back burner for now.