Former Women’s Army Corps commandant dies at age 101
US Army: Former Women’s Army Corps commandant and advocate for women’s military service, Mary Louise Rasmuson, died July 30, 2012, in Anchorage, Alaska, at age 101.
Rasmuson served in the Army from 1942 to 1962, and was a member of the first Women’s Army Corps, or WAC, class. President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed her as the fifth commandant of the WAC in 1957, and she was subsequently reappointed to that position by President John F. Kennedy.
During her service with the WAC, Rasmuson worked with Congress to improve laws regarding female service credit and benefits. After leaving the Army and until her death, Rasmuson remained an ally for female service members and veterans.
“Just two weeks ago, Mary Louise met with the new University of Alaska Anchorage Rasmuson Chair in Economics, and with a group of women veterans who are starting a social service organization. She offered sage advice and support to both,” said Diane Kaplan, president of Rasmuson Foundation, the family foundation that Rasmuson helped lead with her late husband Elmer.
Over the course of her military career, she was awarded the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Occupation Medal, National Defense Medal and Legion of Merit award with two oak leaf clusters for her work integrating black women into the WAC.
Rasmuson served as honorary chair and patron of the Veterans Memorial Project, and was a member of the U.S. Army Alaska Citizen’s Advisory Committee, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and a lifetime member of the Association of the U.S. Army and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
The foundation she and her husband started:
The Rasmuson Foundation is a private foundation that works as a catalyst to promote a better life for Alaskans. Since its founding and first grant of $125 in 1955, the Rasmuson Foundation has supported Alaskan non-profit organizations in the pursuit of their goals, with particular emphasis on organizations that demonstrate strong leadership, clarity of purpose, and cautious use of resources. The vision and values established by Elmer Rasmuson continue to guide the Foundation today. The Foundation awards approximately $20 million annually to help improve the quality of life in Alaska.
What a great woman who had a great Army career and worked hard to help so many people. May she rest in peace.