Self-taught inventor and businessman William P. “Bill” Lear (1902-1978) is best remembered as the founder of Learjet, the first company to manufacture compact business jets.
In the world of baby names, though, he has an entirely different claim to fame: He named a daughter Shanda to create the pun-name Shanda Lear (read: chandelier).
So, what’s the story?
Bill met his fourth wife, Moya Olsen, in the mid-1930s. They met through Moya’s father, vaudeville comedian John “Ole” Olsen.
They had their first date (drinks at the Stork Club) in 1938, and tied the knot in early 1942.
Bill, who already had three children (Mary Louise, William, and Patti) from previous marriages, went on to have four more children with Moya.
Their first was a boy named John, born in December of 1942.
Their second, born in 1944, was a girl — and she was indeed named Shanda. Years later, Moya recounted:
My father said if you have a girl, her name has to be Shanda. S-H-A-N-D-A. Shanda Lear. And if it’s a boy, you name it Gonda and if you’re not sure, it’s Lava.
Their last two children were named David (b. 1948) and Tina (b. 1954).
During an interview in 2007, Shanda Lear mentioned her name while describing her father, who she said was a “quixotic, outspoken and charismatic man who had a great sense of humor. He thought it was quite funny naming me Shanda Lear.”
What are your thoughts on this name?
- “The Lear Gene.” Airport Journals 1 Nov. 2005.
- Mansfield, Stephanie. “The Sky Queen’s Flight To the Finish.” Washington Post 6 May 1981.
- Moya Lear – Wikipedia
- Tetrault, Sharon. “Embracing Life.” Orange Coast Magazine Oct. 2007: 205-208.
Image by Fabio Tura from Unsplash