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Local Woman Recalls Days as a WAVE

By Staff | Nov 12, 2008

Harriet Kessler of Muncy is originally from the Pittsburgh area and graduated from Oakmont High School in 1940, right as World War II was gearing up. She joined the WAVES, Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Services. The group was part of the war effort, having women on the US shores work in replacement of officers and men released for duty at sea.

“Anyone who was capable and patriotic served. My older sister Grace had joined the Army (WACs) ahead of me and I wanted to be different form her,” Kessler said with a smile.

As a civilian, Kessler worked for Thompson Paint Company in Oakmont and was stationed in Washington DC in a paint research lab as part of the original 6th Regiment.

She rose to the rank of Third Class Specialist before resigning to marry Robert Kessler, who worked in Navy intelligence.

After their service, the pair came to Central Pennsylvania and attended Bucknell University. Harriet earned a teaching degree after her two children arrived and taught algebra, geometry, and calculus at Danville, Bloomsburg, and Muncy schools.

Robert worked as a human resources manager for companies like Heinz, Merck, and Sprout Waldron. He died six years ago after sharing 58 years with Harriet.

She is a dog lover, currently keeping company with a shitzu named Ozzie. Although she is now unable to see well, Harriet continues to read with books on tape and still manages to knit. She says she is confining herself to dishcloths these days.

Of course, once a Pittsburgher, always a Pittsburgher. A loyal Steelers fan, Harriet said she has quite the rug in her hallway. “And of course, I have a Terrible Towel.”