Longtime Auxiliarist and former U.S. Coast Guard Women’s Reservist Lois Bouton crossed the bar on Saturday, January 29, 2022. She leaves behind a legacy spanning over the course of her 102-year lifetime. Her steady contributions to the U.S. Coast Guard as a civilian and her service dating back to World War II rewarded her with the nickname of “The Coast Guard Lady”. Nothing speaks volumes more than an individual given the title of an entire organization to which she devoted her life.

A native of Lake County, Illinois, Ms. Bouton began her career as a teacher. She focused on history and soon became fascinated by the heroic acts of the U.S. Coast Guard on the Great Lakes. With World War II starting following the attack at Pearl Harbor in 1941, Ms. Bouton attempted to join the U.S. Coast Guard, but was initially rejected. She was not deterred and enlisted in 1943 following the establishment of the Women’s Reserve of the U.S. Coast Guard, known as SPARS (Semper Paratus, Always Ready). During her service, she spent her free time writing letters to servicemembers overseas.

Following World War II, Ms. Bouton and her husband, whom she had met at radio training school, moved back to Illinois where she continued her passion for education. During the Vietnam War, she visited wounded servicemembers weekly at the Naval Station Great Lakes, bringing them homemade cookies and letters from her students. She paid particular attention to her fellow Coast Guardsmen, earning her the coveted nickname of “The Coast Guard Lady”.

Ms. Bouton retired from teaching in 1972 and relocated to Arkansas, where patriotism led her to continue writing letters and sending holiday cards to U.S. Coast Guard units across the country. Over the span of 48 years, she produced over 100,000 hand-written letters and cards, enshrining her lifetime service in the history books of the U.S. Coast Guard and our nation.

Ms. Bouton served as a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary for over 20 years in Bever Lake, Arkansas. The Auxiliary celebrated her milestone of reaching 100-years-old with a ceremony in 2019 that granted her the title of an Honorary Commodore on behalf of the Commandant of the Coast Guard. She was the first woman and one of only eleven others in the Auxiliary’s history to be granted the title. Her other honors include being awarded the rank of “Honorary Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard”, the “Spirit of Hope” Award from the U.S. Department of Defense and the Coast Guard Distinguished Public Service Award.

Ms. Bouton served our nation her entire life living by the true definition of Semper Paratus. Her legacy and her incredible devotion to duty will always remain an inspiration to all members of Team Coast Guard.

By Andrew Niquette, Branch Chief – Publications Support

Auxiliarists Thea Narkiewicz and Steven White visit with Lois Bouton during her 100th birthday presentation of the Honorary Commodore title on September 19th, 2019. Photo by U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary Public Affairs.