A sunset hymn for my late Aunt Mary Jane

— My Aunt Mary Jane died last month at Oswego Hospital. After living in Galeville for five decades, she spent her final months at a Port City nursing home. She was 88 years old.

Born Mary Jane Korthas in 1924, she had married my mother’s brother, Ed Egloff, sometime after World War II.

When I was a kid, we used to watch the Syracuse Women’s Masters Bowling Tournament on television, and we’d keep an eye out for Aunt Mary Jane’s hands which could be seen keeping score. She had created the local ladies’ tourney and remained at its helm for a quarter-century.

I also knew that Aunt Mary Jane was one of the first women to work at Heid’s hot dog stand. When the boys went “over there” in 1942, Heid’s door swung open for the gals, and Mary Jane was one of those who filled the grill and served chocolate milk and birch beer.

But I’d forgotten about her military service.

While my Uncle Ed joined the Navy and saw more action than he cared for in the Pacific, Mary Jane also donned a Navy uniform. Ed served on three ships including the aircraft carrier Intrepid while Mary Jane sorted letters and packages at the Fleet Post Office in San Francisco. She was one of the WAVES — a Woman Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service.

When he planned her funeral Mass at the Immaculate Heart of Mary last month, my cousin Ed Jr., Aunt Mary Jane’s oldest son, proposed the performance of a particular hymn, one that had special meaning for Navy veterans of WW II. Unfortunately, it was edged off the funeral Mass program by the evergreen “Amazing Grace,” but its story remains relevant.

Naval historian Samuel Eliot Morrison, a rear admiral, told the story toward the end of his 15-volume “History of United States Naval Operations in World War II.” He quoted a letter from Vice Admiral Ted Wilkinson, the commander of the Third Amphibious Force, who had missed the Japanese surrender aboard the battleship Missouri because he was busy supervising a landing of troops at Yokahama.

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