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Coast Guard reservist honored in New London on her 101st birthday

Mary Stewart with Coast Guard Academy Superintendent Rear Admiral William Kelly.jpg
Brian Scott-Smith
/
WSHU
Mary Stewart with Coast Guard Academy Superintendent Rear Admiral William Kelly.

One of the oldest Coast Guard women reservists has been honored by the Coast Guard Academy in New London.

Mary Stewart, who was a chief petty officer in the SPARs — or “Semper Paratus Always Ready” women’s reserves — in the 1940s, celebrated her 101st birthday on Friday.

Despite being over a century old, Stewart said nothing has really changed for her.

Mary Stewart cuts her 101st birthday cake with a ceremonial sword.jpg
Brian Scott-Smith
/
WSHU
Mary Stewart cuts her 101st birthday cake with a ceremonial sword.

“I don’t feel any different,” she said with a smile. “I still — I walk about 3 or 4 times a day for 20 minutes at a time. I can’t sit still. The years don’t mean anything to me because I still do all the things I’ve wanted to do.”

Stewart was born in Connecticut in 1921 to Greek immigrant parents and joined the SPARs in 1943, teaching secretarial skills to coast guard personnel. She started her career in Florida.

“I did a lot of typing for the students and the students who had my typing for their reports got the As,” she chuckled, “so I was in very great demand."

In New London, the Coast Guard Academy will see its largest incoming class of women this year — almost 43% female.

An award-winning freelance reporter/host for WSHU, Brian lives in southeastern Connecticut and covers stories for WSHU across the Eastern side of the state.