Emilie Imhof was the first Zeppelin stewardess, having joined the Deutsche Zeppelin Reederei on September 25th, 1936. She was born Emilie Sahling in the village of Harburg (just south of Hamburg) on August 29, 1892, where she later operated an inn with her husband. Widowed by her early 30s and fluent in multiple languages, she went to sea as a stewardess for the Norddeutsche-Lloyd line in the late 1920s. She spent about ten years working on various ocean liners, including the Columbus in 1935 (which, coincidentally, had originally been christened Hindenburg until it was renamed following WWI.) and the Gneisenau during the first part of 1936.
Hired by the DZR specifically to look after female and child passengers, Frau Imhof flew aboard the Hindenburg's 9th North America flight of the 1936 season, as verified by the discovery of a postcard from her posted onboard the ship during the return leg of that flight. She may very likely have flown on the 10th North American flight of 1936 and possibly the "Millionaire's Flight" that same year, however the logs from those flights have been lost and therefore this information has not yet been verified.
Emilie Imhof was aboard the Hindenburg on its first North American flight of the 1937 season. As the flight drew to an end and the Hindenburg came in to land at Lakehurst on the evening of May 6th, 1937, Frau Imhof was likely downstairs in the new passenger cabins on B-deck preparing them for the return flight scheduled for midnight that evening, when the fire suddenly broke out. She never made it out of the ship, and was later identified by the fillings in her teeth.
Special thanks to Dr. Cheryl Ganz for providing information on Emilie Imhof's steamship career and on the mail she sent while onboard the Hindenburg, and to Barbara Waibel at the Zeppelin Archive for making some factual corrections to this article.
Thanks also to Herr Manfred Sauter of the Freundeskreis zur Förderung des Zeppelin Museums e.V., whose memorial article on the Hindenburg crew members who lost their lives at Lakehurst (Zeppelin Brief, No. 59, June 2011) provided additional details on Frau Imhof's career, and to Dr. Cheryl Ganz for providing me with a copy of the article.