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Lambertville woman in Coast Guard during WWII




LAMBERTVILLE — Clara Mae Brockmueller, 89, who enlisted in the Coast Guard during World War II, and later worked as a museum volunteer aboard an aircraft carrier in Texas, died Saturday at Aspen Grove Assisted Living in Lambertville.

No cause of death was given, her daughter, Pam Huner, said.

She was born in Toledo on Aug. 31, 1924, to Newton and Daisy Blaine.

Mrs. Brockmueller, who graduated from the former Whitney High School in 1942, was working as a buyer for Sears Roebuck & Co. when she enlisted in the Coast Guard on her 20th birthday, the earliest age women could join, said her granddaughter, Beth Huner.

Women served in SPARS, the nickname for the women’s reserve unit that was created in 1942.

The Army and Navy also had separate women’s reserves to free men to fight overseas.

Her decision was inspired by a neighbor who had enlisted earlier. Because her family didn’t have any men who could serve, she felt it was her patriotic duty to join the war effort, Pam Huner said.

As apprentice seaman serving stateside, her duties were clerical.

She was in New York City on May 8, 1945, when Victory Europe Day was declared.

“She was part of that big party in the streets,” Pam Huner said.

At the time, she was dating Paul F. Brockmueller, who was in the Army Air Corps. The two married in Toledo while both were on leave on Dec. 26, 1945. After their wedding, he returned to duty in Texas and Mrs. Brockmueller went back to Detroit.

Her husband died on Feb. 12, 1991.

After the war, the Brockmuellers returned to Toledo, where she resumed working for Sears.

Mrs. Brockmueller was a long-time Girl Scout leader who was in charge of day camps throughout the Toledo area. She trained other leaders.

“It was a continuation of her military skills,” her daughter said.

Pam Huner, who was a Girl Scout, said her mother would lead the girls on frequent hikes and camping trips.

“We were outside all the time,” she recalled.

At age 40, Mrs. Brockmueller took lifesaving lessons to facilitate trips on the water. She learned how to downhill ski around the same time, her daughter said.

Her energy as a scout leader earned her the nickname “Pepper.” Her husband was dubbed “Salt” when he went along on trips, her daughter said.

Travels took her to Corpus Christi, where the museum aircraft carrier USS Lexington is docked.

She began volunteering there about 1992 through about 2010, between September through May, when she’d return to Toledo for the summers.

As a volunteer, she would assist Boy and Girl Scouts who camped on the vessel, and she’d work in the gift shop.

She was frequently honored for racking up the most volunteer hours on the Lexington, her daughter said.

When the Women In Military Service For America Memorial opened at Arlington National; Cemetery in 1997, she was there to march in a parade, granddaughter Michelle Hollinger said.

“She also used to march in parades in Michigan,” she added.

Her wartime service gave her a kinship with a local WAVES group of women who served in the Navy, joining them for various events, her daughter said.

She was active with Bridgepoint Church, formerly First Baptist Church of Temperance, for which “She was always chairing something,” Ms. Hollinger said.

Mrs. Brockmueller is survived by daughters, Pamela Huner and Deborah Sue Tate; two granddaughters, and two great-grandsons.

Visitation will be from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesday at Michael W. Pawlak funeral home, 1640 Smith Rd., Temperance, where the funeral will be held at noon.

Memorials are suggested to Bridgepoint Church, Lake Erie Waves Unit 128, or Gideon’s International or Wertz Warriors.

Contact Jim Sielicki at: 419-724-6050 or

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