A Look Back at an Inspiring Life: More from Marie-Louise Love
The inspiring life of Marie-Louise Love, is the story of a woman who served in the Women's Army Corps, worked as an interior designer, and continues to live a full and active life filled with song, friends and volunteer work.
Although she's affectionately known as "Sarge", Marie-Louise Love radiates warmth.
The nickname is a nod to her service as a member of the Women's Army Corps, from 1943-1947. "Sarge" savors memories of those days.
"When we make friends in the Army," she says, "they're friends for life."
She keeps in touch with some of those friends. Ironically, some live in Florida, as she does. Love was in boot camp in Daytona Beach, Fla., about one month after taking her oath. "They cut a square out of the jungle and put up tar paper shacks for us," she says, chuckling a bit.
In Daytona, Love learned all about the Army, which included standing guard duty.
"Day and night," she says.
She attended Army Administration School in Texas, an experience she calls "interesting". That was followed by a stint working at Officer Candidate School in Fort Sill, OK. She was later assigned to the commanding officer of the Army's Field Artillery Division . . . He had a reputation for bellowing, but "Sarge" was deeply loyal to her boss.
"He taught me respect for the Army, because he was a West Pointer, and they appreciated the Women's Auxiliary," she said. “I’ll never forget that man.”
Not everyone was complimentary of women serving in those days.
"We were there so the men could be relieved and go off to battle," Love says.
It was a different time.
Eventually, Love became a supply sergeant, remaining at Fort Sill.
"I learned how to take care of things, and to take care of property."
Today, Love, 89, remains articulate and has impressive recall. She has the same effervescent smile she did in 1943, and a clear, strong voice. She attributes some of that to her voice training.
Love began singing when she was four-years-old. By age 12, She was singing in the church's senior choir with her parents. She also performed with both the Pittsburgh Symphony and the Pittsburgh Opera.
"It was a thrill," she says.
After the war, she joined a little opera company in New York City. She used her G.I Bill benefits to attend the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y., earning a degree in interior design. Although she intended to return to the Army, she landed a job working for the city of New York.
“I designed interior rooms at airports,” she says. “It was a very good job.”
“There were 26 voices,” she says. “It was fabulous singing with all those people.”
She continues to practice her voice exercises, and has a rock-hard stomach to show for her efforts.
Love is also a patriot. It’s something she comes by naturally.
“My father’s family dates back to before the American Revolution,” Love says. “If you didn’t vote, he thought it was a sin.”
She’s proud to be an American; and proud of her service.
She recalls when Memorial Day was still known as Decoration Day. Originally established after the Civil War, the intent was to decorate graves of those who sacrificed their lives while in military service. In 1971, it became an official federal holiday.
For Love, observance is also a matter of personal honor.
In 1943, she was working as a page girl at a bank in Pittsburgh Pa. She was engaged to a man she had known for many years. But he never returned from his military sevice, losing his life in Germany.
"He was a lovely, lovely man," she says, the slightest hint of emotion tugging at her voice.
She never married.
Love joined the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps, (as it was initially known), on her 21st birthday. She felt the discernible pull of service even before losing her fiancée.
"When you think about it, this country was based on people who sacrificed their lives for freedom," she says. “Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of thought.”
Hear from Love herself in our feature, "Video: Memorial Day Holds Special Meaning for Marie-Louise Love".