In 1943 artist Francis V. Kughler, Hudson River Museum Director H. Armour Smith and Women’s Army Corps recruiter Joanne Coates conceived a plan to encourage women of Yonkers to enlist in the army and honor their contribution. Every Yonkers woman who joined the WACs would have her portrait made in oil or pastel by Kughler.
Abigaile Webber Halley attended New York City’s Eastern Business School after high school but then worked for Otis Elevator Company during the first part of World War II. Otis was one the major employees in Yonkers.
Soon after enlisting in the WAC, she married her first husband, Thomas A. Halley, who had been fighting in the South Pacific. It was a wartime romance that did not last, and they divorced in the next year.