Mary Veronica Geffken (née Cowan), 96, formerly of Monmouth County, passed away peacefully at Hope Hospice in Cape Coral, Florida, on Monday, June 19 after a short illness. Born in Jersey City on May 9, 1921, Mary was graduated from Holy Family Academy in Bayonne, and the Jersey City Medical Center School of X-Ray. She worked as an X-ray technician at Orange Memorial Hospital prior to enlisting in the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC, later WAC) during World War II. After completing her basic training at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, she was promoted to sergeant and assigned to the Secret Room at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. While stationed there, Sgt. Cowan was selected as the model for the most famous WAC recruiting poster of the period: “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory.”
In April 1944, Mary Cowan was married to Sgt. George “Gip” Geffken at St. Andrew’s Roman Catholic Church in Bayonne. The newlyweds lived at South Barracks, Fort Myer, Virginia, until they were both honorably discharged at the end of World War II.
Mrs. Geffken, her husband, and children lived in North Bergen (Hudson County) for many years. They also spent summers in Highlands before moving to Middletown in 1963.
Mrs. Geffken was a homemaker who always put her three children and her husband before herself. Her love and devotion to family is illustrated by her and her husband’s encouragement and commitment toward ensuring each of their three children attained advanced college degrees. During their Middletown years, Mary was an active parishioner of St. Mary’s R.C. Church in New Monmouth; and then, after retiring to Southwest Florida in 1984, at St. Therese’s Parish in North Fort Myers.
Mrs. Geffken was predeceased by her husband, George; her daughter, Nancy C. Makson; and her sister, Marie C. Lonergan. She is survived by her two loving sons, Jim of North Fort Myers, Florida, and Rick of Farmingdale; five devoted and beloved grandchildren: Dylan, Kathleen and Ian Geffken, Karen McKevitt and Amanda Makson; and three great-grandchildren, Morgan and Jacob McKevitt and Emerson Geffken. Her first cousins, Grace McDevitt, whom she loved as a sister, and Gene Ritzinger survive her. Her niece, Sharon Cooper, and nephew, Brian Lonergan, also survive.
The Geffken family will hold private services in Florida. She will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery with her late husband. Her sons respectfully suggest that friends consider a donation in her name to Hope Hospice, Cape Coral Florida via www.hopehospice.org/donate.
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