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.
With a background in nursing, Mary Kurilecz attended Surgical Technician School after basic training. Her brother was also in the Army, serving with the medical field. Prior to the War, she had attended the Cochran School of Nursing and worked at St. John’s Riverside Hospital.