Opal L. Utley
U. S. Coast Guard
WWII US Military
Disbursing and Pay Officer

She was born in Cass County, Texas, but grew up in Caddo Parish. "Mom went home to have me at her home in Texas," Opal says. Graduating from Baylor University in 1941 as a music education major, Opal then taught the third grade in Waskom. She tried to enter the SPARS of the Coast Guard in January of 1943, but a bad cold prevented her from passing the eye examination. She tried again and was admitted on July 20, 1943. Sent to Florida she was billeted at the Biltmore Hotel in Palm Beach, where windows were blacked out, she says. Opal went to Storekeeper School, where courses included bookkeeping, and graduated as storekeeper third class. Then she was ordered to Pay and Supply School, which was also an Officers' Candidate School. She was commissioned as an ensign on June 6, 1944. The Coast Guard stationed Opal in Port Arthur throughout the war as Disbursing and Pay Officer. She says she did not experience discrimination as a woman in the military. After the war, Opal worked for Pan Am Airways and for Empire Productions, which staged talent shows around the country. She returned to teaching in Grandfalls, Texas, but was ordered to active duty in 1951 as part of U.S. Coast Guard Reserve, and served in Washington, D.C. during the Korean War. Opal returned to teaching, including two stints in Okinawa. She finally settled in at Meadowview Elementary School in Bossier City, where she taught second grade. She retired in 1987.