EAST PITTSBURGH, PA, U.S.A.
COLONEL, WOMEN’S ARMY CORPS, PHILANTHROPIST
07/30/2012. ANCHORAGE, AK
Mary Louise Milligan Rasmuson was born in East Pittsburgh, PA, April, 11, 1911. Miss Milligan graduated with a bachelor’s degree in education from the Carnegie Institute of Technology. She received a master’s degree in school administration from the University of Pittsburgh. She was one of the first two women awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Carnegie Tech. Prior to enlisting in the military, she worked as a secretary, teacher, and assistant principal.
Miss Milligan enlisted in the United States Army during World War II. As a private she participated in an experiment using women as military professionals. She was an armed services pioneer who worked her way up through the ranks In 1957, President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed her director of the Women’s Army Corps. President John F. Kennedy reappointed her in 1961. She was instrumental in the integration of black women into the Corps. She was awarded the Legion of Merit award for her work.
She married Elmer E. Rasmuson in 1961. After retiring from the army in 1962, she took up residence in Anchorage, AK. Mrs. Rasmuson helped expand her husband’s philanthropic efforts which included supporting civil rights, education and cultural life in Anchorage and beyond. She worked tirelessly for the Alaska Crippled Children’s Association, American Cancer Society, Anchorage Fine Arts Commission, and Anchorage March of Dimes.
Intelligent. Diplomatic. Principled and ethical. Gentle but firm. Mrs. Rasmuson spent her life breaking barriers, challenging conventions, and seeking to improve opportunities for those around her.
She was a trailblazer for women and left her mark across the country and the state of Alaska through her leadership, philanthropy, and the family foundation that she helped lead with her late husband Elmer Rasmuson.