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"We believe surviving spouses and dependent children need an organization dedicated solely to their needs, concerns, and welfare.”

Our History

GSW History

The early organizers and founding members (Including First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt)  saw GSW as an organization for and by military surviving spouses to collectively work to improve benefits for the Military Surviving Spouse. They supported each other and reached out to new widows.  Each successive generation has endeavored to do the same.  During periods of war, our organization is extremely busy as we take on new members. However death comes to the military in peacetime, training, and disease as well. 

One story told by one of the early members, Myrtle Tedesco who unfortunately passed away aptly on Memorial Day 2013, is of military surviving spouses moving in with each other to help care for the children and collectively pool resources.  As it was told, "I watched her kids at night so she could work, and she watched my kids during the day so I could work."   She added, "You know we didn't get much money back then,  and I had to go to his parents for it and they distributed it to me." Myrtle once recounted how she was notified of her husband's incident. "A boy rode up on a bicycle and handed me a telegram- It said my husband was Missing in Action.  He was piloting a plane over the Pacific.  I never heard another word.  A year later I received another telegram by the same boy on the bicycle.  It said the Department of War regrets to inform you that your husbands status has been updated from Missing in Action (MIA) to MIA- Presumed dead".  Unfortunately they never found Myrtles husband, and she received no more updates on his status.  She never received a folded flag and received minimal widows benefits.   

Banding together these pioneering women (yes back then they were all women and now we have members who are men), made a conscious decision to change these and other scenarios, by initiating change through Congressional Advocacy and Community Awareness.

Each succeeding generation has made contributions towards improvement of benefits and addressing inequities within the benefit system. Today, the procedure is quite different, but still a shock for those that receive the dreaded knock at the door. Today the Department of Defense distributes a binder about 3 inches thick, explaining the benefits. Today, GSW is still advocating for change and equity, and stands ready to assist any military surviving spouse. The image of a military widow holding a folded flag is now one of the biggest recognizable images of a military widow

Early Pictures of Gold Star Wives

Cover of the January 1953 Edition of Gold Star

A complete history of Gold Star Wives of America may be purchased at our online store.

1946 - 2020 National Presidents and Convention Cities


                                     
President Elect
1946 New York City  Marie Jordan (Speer) *           
1947 Washington         Marie Jordan (Speer) *
1948 Detroit Ruth Dutcher *
1949 St. Louis Myrtle Tedesco (Verzi) *
1950 Rapid City Ann Reinke +
1951 Washington Grace Wynn Hanson*
1952 Chicago Margaret Mortenson *
1953 San Francisco Sara Mulvey *
1954 New York City Margaret Nicholson *
1955 Minneapolis Larue Yessen *
1956 Boston Larue Yessen *
1957 Toledo Jane Wilson *
1958 Washington Jane Wilson *
1959 Miami Maryellen McDonough *
1960 Denver Maryellen McDonough *
1961 Wichita Irene Doubrava *
1962 Los Angeles Joy Dove *
1963 Oklahoma City Joy Dove *
1964 Cincinnati Mary Alice Giles *
1965 New York City Mary Alice Giles *
1966 San Antonio Virginia Montoya *
1967 Detroit Virginia Montoya *
1968 Denver Geraldine Chittick *
1969 Atlanta Geraldine Chittick *
1970 Minneapolis Franc Gray *
1971 San Diego Franc Gray *
1972 Columbus Edith Knowles *
1973 St. Louis Edith Knowles *
1974 Atlantic City Jean Eastman *
1975 Orlando Jean Eastman *
1976 Toledo Lavone Tueting *
1977 Chicago Lavone Tueting *
1978 Hartford Karen Sintic
1979 San Antonio Sandra Robertson
1980 Montgomery Sandra Robertson
1981 Denver Paula Muth
1982 New York City Paula Muth
1983 Asheville Rachel Bunn (Clinkscale)
1984 Washington Rachel Bunn (Clinkscale)
1985 Minneapolis Stella Burket* 
1986 Scottsdale Stella Burket *
1987 Tulsa June Bolich *
1988 Seattle June Bolich *
1989 Philadelphia Odessa Wyckoff *
1990 Omaha Odessa Wyckoff *
1991 Fort Walton Beach Rose Lee
1992 Oklahoma City Rose Lee
1993 Arlington Margaret Ferguson
1994 Tacoma Margaret Ferguson
1995 New York City Joanne Danna *
1996 Little Rock Joanne Danna *
1997 San Diego Florance Herbert
1998 Fort Walton Beach Florance Herbert
1999 San Antonio Mary Dwyer
2000 Omaha Mary Dwyer
2001 Arlington Aseneth Blackwell
2002 Honolulu Aseneth Blackwell
2003 Scottsdale Martha Didamo
2004 Madison Martha Didamo
2005 Orlando M. Joan Young
2006 Portland M. Joan Young
2007 Branson Kathy Upchurch
2008 New Haven Kathy Upchurch
2009 Laguna Hills Katherine Frazer
2010 Omaha Katherine Frazer
2011 St Louis Jeanette Early
2012 Fairborn Jeanette Early
2013 Denver Harriet Boyden
2014 Seattle Harriet Boyden
2015 Washington (Crystal City) Judi Van Cleave
2016 Anchorage Judi Van Cleave
2017 San Antonio Crystal Wenum
2018 Bloomington Crystal Wenum
2019 Las Vegas Nancy Menagh
2020 Virtual Convention Nancy Menagh

* Deceased    + Unknown

Note:  The year the Past National Presidents began their term and the city National Convention was held.

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For additional information, or to become a Gold Star Wives Corporate Sponsor, please visit our sponsorship page.

Additional Sponsors:
Prince of Peace Catholic Church Knights of Columbus - Hoover, AL

Gold Star Wives of America, Inc.

Gold Star Wives is a Congressionally Chartered non-profit service organization that is capable of providing services to the active duty and service-connected military surviving spouses.

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Birmingham, Alabama Office
P.O. Box 361986
Birmingham, AL 35236

Email: info@goldstarwives.org
Phone: 1-888-751-6350

Washington DC Office
200 N.Glebe Road Rm 435
Arlington, VA 22203-3755

Gold Star Wives of America, Inc

Gold Star Wives of America, Inc. is a non-profit 501(C)4 National Military Widow/Widowers Service Organization chartered by the United States Congress. Donations are not deductible as charitable contributions for federal income tax purposes but may be deductible as trade or business expenses.

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