U.S. Coast Guard Honors Dorothy Kurtz
Members of the U.S. Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard carried the casket of Dorothy Kurtz, member of the Coast Guard Women's Reserve, to her final resting place Monday, September 19 2016 at Venice Memorial Gardens, Venice, Florida.
Kurtz was one of the first women to serve in the Coast Guard as a SPAR (Semper Paratus - Always Ready) during World War II from 1943 to 1946.
During World War II, on November 23, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a law that established the Coast Guard Women’s Reserve. The Women’s Reserve came to be referred to as the SPARS, an acronym representing the Coast Guard motto, “Semper Paratus - Always Ready.”
One of the first women to join the ranks of the SPARS was Dorothy E. Kurtz.
Kurtz served as a SPAR from 1943 to 1946. Passionate with her branch of service, she remained an active member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary until her passing September 12, 2016 – she was 93.
Kurtz was born in Bronx, New York in 1922 and she moved to Bergen County, New Jersey in 1952. She served as chaplain and historian for the Dolphins Women’s Veterans Organization and volunteered for 25 years with the Senior Friendship Center. She also volunteered with the Red Cross during times of tragedy in Florida.
Kurtz was extremely proud of her role of not only a SPAR, but as a Coast Guard Auxiliarist. Her dedication and pride overflowed to others around her including her family. Her daughter, Barbara Szymanski, is a current member of the Auxiliary.
During her long and prosperous life, Kurtz opened many doors for female shipmates.
“Ms. Kurtz was a trailblazer in not only her words, but in her actions,” said Captain Holly Najarian, commanding officer of Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg. “Her dedication to the Coast Guard was evident in her tenacity to spread the word to scores of young up and coming service members and was reflected in the pride that her family members, in particular her daughter, have in carrying on her legacy as a Coast Guard Auxiliarist.”
“Dorothy Kurtz is one of the main reasons I am where I am today in my Coast Guard career,” said Chief Warrant Officer Lois Davis, personnel division chief at Coast Guard Sector St. Petersburg. “She set me, and many other Coast Guard women, up for success.”
Kurtz opened doors for women to fill pertinent shore-side support rolls. Her accomplishments empowered women to fight for further involvement in rolls traditionally held by men, such as operational and underway positions.
“Dorothy’s history as a SPAR was a great inspiration to me and other women in the military,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Brittany Desaulniers, coxswain at Coast Guard Station Fort Myers Beach. “She was instrumental during a monumental time in history that paved the way for women like me to feel relevant in the work-force, especially in the military.”
One of her many memorable accomplishments was the thrill of participating, through special invitation from the White House, in the commissioning of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Stratton, a 418-foot Nation Security Cutter homported in Alameda, California. The Cutter Stratton was named after Capt. Dorothy C. Stratton, the first woman to serve in the Women’s Reserve of the Coast Guard and Kurtz’s commanding officer.
Kurtz was laid to rest at Venice Memorial Gardens cemetery, Venice, Florida, September 19. Coast Guard Auxiliary and active duty members paid their last respects and gathered in support for the Kurtz family as members of the Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard provided a full military honor ceremony.
Dorothy was the beloved wife of the late Harold J. Kurtz and loving mother of her predeceased son, Richard. She leaves her daughters Catherine Van Langen, Patricia Kurtz, Teresa Hall, Betsy Conforti, Barbara Szymanski and son Edward. She is also survived by eleven grandchildren and twelve great grandchildren.