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Hernando neighbors | Mary (Blair) Hinds, 87

From WAVE to life of service

Mary Hinds was a WAVE, then became active in the American Legion and the auxiliary, serving in many roles over the years.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Mary Hinds was a WAVE, then became active in the American Legion and the auxiliary, serving in many roles over the years.

How long have you lived in Hernando County, and where do you live? Where did you live previously?

I was born in Burlington, Vt., grew up in Haverhill, Mass., and have lived in Naugatuck, Conn., and Leominster, Mass.

We moved to Florida in June 1984 after vacationing here and loving the area. After my husband, Rodger, passed away, I sold our house and moved to Atria Evergreen Woods in Spring Hill.

Who are the members of your family?

My husband, Rodger E. Hinds, and I were married for 60 years before he passed away on March 5. We have four children: daughter Donna Hebert of Amherst, Mass.; son James Hinds and his wife, Ann, of Quincy, Mass.; son Gerard Hinds of Hanford, Calif.; and daughter Mary Lou James and her husband, Ronald, of Ocala.

I was the oldest of seven children, and three of my siblings are still alive.

Tell us about your career.

I've made a career, or rather dedicated my life, to serving others. When World War II began, my brother-in-law joined the Army Air Forces, and shortly after that I entered the Navy as one of the many WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). I was stationed at the naval air station in Brunswick, Maine, and later in Quonset Point, R.I.

The highlight of my duty was going aboard the USS Philippine Sea, an aircraft carrier that had just returned from a tour of South America. I obtained a press pass and toured the ship, which was a thrill for a Navy woman. At that time, women were not allowed to serve aboard ships.

When I left the Navy, I was accepted for the GI bill training program. In 1947, I went to work for a mail advertising house in Boston, and roomed with another WAVE. With so many veterans returning and going to college on the GI bill, apartments and rooms were hard to find, and veterans stuck together. This is how I met my husband. He was a GI student at Northeastern University. We met in September and were married in November.

Children soon followed and we moved to Naugatuck, Conn., in 1950. As a veteran, I was able to join the American Legion, but was told the post didn't really want women members. I joined the auxiliary, where I served as chaplain, children and youth chairwoman, ways and means chairwoman and vice president, before the post took notice and decided to invite me to join them. I told them I was no longer interested and continued to serve the auxiliary, later becoming president and secretary of Unit 19.

I was elected to serve as chaplain, treasurer and vice president of the American Legion Auxiliary in New Haven, Conn., District 2. In 1965, we moved from Connecticut to Massachusetts and I joined American Legion Post 150, where I served as hospital chairwoman and visited veterans returning from Vietnam. After serving in almost every other office there was, I was asked to be post adjutant. I told them I'd be happy to, after I served as post commander. I was soon elected commander.

Later, I became active in the district and department (state) levels of the American Legion, chairing many committees. I served for three years as department vice president — only the second woman to do so in the state.

When we moved to Spring Hill, it was supposed to be our retirement, but I actually became busier. In 1986, I formed Gulf Coast WAVES Unit 27 of Hernando County and served as president and secretary for several terms. Years later, I was named Florida state director of WAVES National and would help form 21 new units of WAVES in Florida. After serving for five years, I became the Florida state director and regional representative of WAVES National.

I also joined American Legion Post 186 and served as adjutant for three years. I would later go on to form American Legion Post 208 when I saw a need for change. There I served as commander, adjutant and finance officer many times.

It was sad, but just a few months ago, we turned in our charter and closed Post 208. With the funds we had raised, we donated to charities, including Habitat for Humanity, Hernando-Pasco Hospice, WAC Chapter 97, WAVES Unit 27 and the National Child Welfare Foundation.

I had also formed the Nature Coast Lions Club of Hernando County and served as president and the used eyeglass chairwoman for District 35. I served on the Hernando County Eye Sight Foundation and was appointed as zone chairwoman for Lions District 35.

What are your favorite things to do in Hernando County?

Now that I live at Atria and have all this spare time, I'm serving as vice president of the residents association, running the trivia games four times a week and leading a choral group twice a month.

I'm still active in my WAVES unit, and take part in some of the other programs offered at Atria. I like to read (especially the newspaper), watch some television, work crossword puzzles, and take a nap when I feel I need one. I think it's time for me to slow down a little.

What do you think would make Hernando County a better place to live?

To discontinue all the new construction. We already have water shortages and too much traffic.

Tell us something about yourself that most people don't know.

Well, I always thought my life was an open book. If it wasn't before, it is now.

Hernando Neighbors is an occasional feature of the Hernando Times. Do you know someone who would make a good profile? We'd like to hear from you. Contact Jean Hayes, community news coordinator, at jhayes@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1438.

From WAVE to life of service 08/16/08 [Last modified: Saturday, August 16, 2008 12:52pm]
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