Lois Corinne Guenette Bouton, known as “The Coast Guard Lady” for her steadfast support of the service by writing thousands of letters to Coasties, died on Jan. 29 at the age of 102.
When she celebrated her 100th birthday, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Jason Vanderhaden lauded Bouton as a “very special lady” and a “trailblazer.”
“Her service and continued support to Coast Guard members through the years has been remarkable,” Vanderhaden wrote in September 2019. “The profound impact she’s had on our members and our service as a whole is extraordinary, and we could not be more proud and honored to celebrate with her today. She has been – and continues to be – an inspiration.”
She was born to Louis and Florence Boyle Guenette on September 21, 1919, in Rochelle, Illinois. She married William Bouton on February 21, 1945.
During WWII, Lois enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard Women’s Reserve, known as the “SPARs,” the acronym for the Coast Guard’s motto, “Semper Paratus – Always Ready” in August 1943. As a radio operator, Lois was assigned to Coast Guard Radio Station Cape May, N.J., and later to an air station, finally to the Coast Guard district office in Philadelphia. She was discharged from the SPARs in November 1945 as a Radioman Third Class.
After World War II the Boutons lived briefly in Waukegan, and then moved to Zion, Illinois. She taught in Little Beach/Beach School (now known as Howe Elementary School). Lois retired from teaching mostly first grade classes after 30 years. In 1974, Lois and William moved to Rogers, Ark., from Zion, Ill.
Her love for the Coast Guard continued through the rest of her life. When traveling over the years, she and her husband visited many Coast Guard units. She wrote thousands of letters to members of the Coast Guard community (active, reserve, retired, civilian and family members) and became known as “The Coast Guard Lady.”
Her faithful letter writing over the years brought many honors and personal visits from Coast Guard personnel from all over including present and former Commandants and Master Chief Petty Officers of the Coast Guard. In recent years, newly promoted Coast Guard Chief Petty Officers from the St. Louis area would come out and pay her a visit around her birthday each year as part of their indoctrination to the Chief Petty Officers corps.
Lois received many illustrious honors from the Coast Guard and the U.S. government, including the Coast Guard Distinguished Public Service Award, and the “Spirit of Hope” award presented by the Department of Defense. Her most prized honor was receiving the rank as “Honorary Master Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Coast Guard.”
Lois also served over 20 years with the Coast Guard Auxiliary Beaver Lake Flotilla and was also awarded the position as an Honorary Commodore in the Coast Guard Auxiliary.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to Grace United Methodist Church, 1801 Dixieland Rd, Rogers, AR 72758, or to the National Coast Guard Museum, 78 Howard St, Suite A, New London, CT 06320.
Services for Mrs. Bouton will be held Monday, February 7, 2022 with Visitation beginning at 12:00pm and her Funeral Service at 2:00pm in Grace United Methodist Church of Rogers. Entombment with Full Military Honors will follow in Benton County Memorial Park Cemetery. Her funeral will be streamed on Facebook Live at Grace United Methodist Church (Rogers, Ark.). Arrangements are under the care of Rollins Funeral Home in Rogers. Condolences may be expressed at www.RollinsFuneral.com