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.
Frances Emerson and her extended family gave their all for the war effort. When she enlisted in 1944, her husband, Pvt. Walter H. Emerson, Jr., was already an Army ambulance driver in England and all three of his brothers—Ralph, Robert and Herbert—were also serving with the U.S. Army overseas. In October, Ralph was killed fighting in France with the 9th Armored Division. In 1945, her husband was a Nazi prisoner of war for several months, but released safely. Two of her cousins were also serving. Prior to enlisting with the WAC, she was an active member of the Red Cross in Yonkers.