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.
At age 39, Lois Wilson had experience as a teacher and artist that qualified her to start as an assistant occupational therapist with the rank of sergeant. She was from Fayette, a small town in Alabama, and originally came north to study art in Boston. Before the war she traveled to the major art centers of France and Italy, as well as took architecture classes at Alabama Polytechnic Institute. After leaving the WAC, she became a prolific Yonkers folk artist, who donated all of her work to her hometown.