Lake Norman Publications

Woman who served in WWII gets surprise driveway birthday

STANLEY – In the face of coronavirus-related restrictions on gatherings, many milestones are being marked in non-traditional ways.

Given Lucy Harrington’s personal history, an unconventional celebration seemed perfectly appropriate.

Family members and friends from Denver United Methodist Church honored Harrington’s 95th birthday May 22 with a surprise drive-by birthday procession in the  Cowans Ford community.

Harrington is a World War II veteran, but her route to service was certainly unconventional.

She was born in Colorado Springs, Colo., in 1925 and while visiting her sister in Lockport, N.Y., in 1945, Harrington saw a “She Serves That Men May Fly” sign urging women to serve special roles in the U.S. military.

But because she was 20-years-old and women had to be 21 to serve in the U.S., she decided to join the Royal Canadian Air Force in Canada as a radio operator, where she learned Morse code and listened regularly to German U-boat radio traffic.

At the end of the war, she was given the option to stay in the RCAF if she gave up her U.S. citizenship. However, losing her citizenship was not an option in her mind.

When Harrington returned to the U.S., she lived in western New York with her sister and brother-in-law. She served with the Newfane American Legion, the Newfane Hospital Ladies Auxiliary and was well known for volunteering at the Salvation Army food kitchen.

Harrington worked at Bell Aircraft Co. and joined the local Civil Air Patrol Auxiliary, where she met her husband, Earl Harrington, who died in 2006.

The couple had three children: Earl Jr., Heather and Molly.

Lucy Harrington was blessed with a large extended family, which also attended her drive-by birthday party.

The procession was led by the Lincoln County Fire Department and Lincoln County Sheriff’s office, followed by dozens of vehicles. Along with many honks and cheers of “happy birthday,” some of the friends created signs and birthday cards.

Harrington’s face was beaming as she waved to all of the vehicles driving by, and she was in awe of all of the people who showed up. ο

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