Jean Wells in her Coast Guard uniform during World War II.

WESTPORT — She was born a year before World War I ended.

And she served in the Coast Guard during World War II.

Now, after decades of volunteer service for the American Red Cross and Norwalk Hospital, Jean Wells will get a community salute as grand marshal of this year’s Memorial Day parade on May 30.

The selection of Wells as the parade’s grand marshal underscores the local theme of this year’s observance of the holiday — “Honoring Women Veterans.”

The announcement was made Tuesday by William Vornkahl, the president of the Westport Veterans Council.

Wells, born in Indiana on May 30, 1917, moved to Westport in 1926 and attended Bedford Elementary School, the building that now houses Town Hall.  She also attended the Katherine Gibbs School.

 Wells was inducted into the women’s division of the Coast Guard, known as SPARs, referencing the Coast Guard motto, “Semper Paratus — Always Ready,” on Jan. 15, 1943.

She served at the U.S. Naval Special Hospital in Palm Beach, Fla., and achieved the rank of yeoman second class. She was discharged Sept. 1, 1945.  

Jean Wells, at 102, after taking a “Stop the Bleeds” training class offered in 2019 by the Westport Volunteer Emergency Medical Service. / Photo, westportems.org

Wells returned to Westport, and in 1957, married David S. Wells, and became the mother of two sons, David and Jonathan.

Since then, Wells has been a longtime volunteer helping with Red Cross blood drives, and also volunteered at Norwalk Hospital for more than 32 years. She regularly visited fellow veterans at Veterans Administration hospitals as well.

The parade will step off at 9 a.m. Memorial Day, Monday, May 30. The line of march begins on Riverside Avenue, continues east on Post Road East, to Myrtle Avenue, to Main Street and ends at Parker Harding Plaza.

Certificates will be awarded in the following categories:  Best Development of Theme, Best Youth Organization Float, Most Creative, Best Community Organization, Most Colorful and Best Overall Float.

Memorial services will follow the parade on Veterans Green.