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CAPT. Mary T. Kovacevich


January 23, 2019

BESSEMER, Mich. - CAPT. Mary T. Kovacevich, U.S. Navy Nurse Corps, 100, a veteran of World War II, Korean and Vietnam conflicts, died Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, at home surrounded by her loving family.

She was born on Oct. 27, 1918, in Bessemer, daughter of Magdaline (Perak) and Steve Kovacevich, immigrant parents of Slung, Croatia. She attended St. Sebastian Catholic School, Washington Public School, and A.D. Johnston High School, graduating in 1937. Subsequently, she enrolled in a five-year nursing program at the College of St. Scholastica and St. Mary's Hospital in Duluth, Minn., graduating in 1943 with a Bachelor of Science in nursing and Registered Nurse degrees from St. Mary's Hospital.

Immediately following college graduation, Mary enlisted in the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps and was commissioned as an ensign in the Nurse Corps in 1944. Shortly thereafter she received initial orders to the Naval Hospital in Norman, Okla., functioning as charge nurse in the medical/surgical units, and one year later was transferred to the Naval Hospital in Oakland, Calif., where she completed her obligated service. In June of 1946, Mary was discharged from active duty with the rank of lieutenant (junior grade), and maintained her status in the Naval Reserves via medical correspondence courses and training duty at the Naval Gun Factory Medical Clinic at Washington, D.C. Following discharge, she held part-time nursing positions at various hospitals and in the interim attended Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., graduating with a bachelor's degree in nursing education. She accepted the position of head nurse in the Medical Unit at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Iron Mountain, where she was employed until 1951.

Mary was recalled to active military with the Navy in 1951 during the Korean conflict. Subsequently, she was assigned as follows: USN Hospital Charleston, S.C., three separate tours of duty as charge nurse in a variety of nursing services and the third tour as assistant director of Nursing Services and educational director; USN Hospital Great Lakes, Ill., as charge nurse in the OB/GYN unit; U.S. Naval Corps School, Bainbridge, Md., as hospital corps instructor in nursing procedures and practices. She assisted in the de-activation of this school and was transferred to U.S. Hospital Corps School, Great Lakes, Ill., continuing her assignment as Hospital Corps instructor.

In 1957, Mary was selected for, and augmented to the regular U.S. Navy, and was assigned duty at the Navy Recruit Station in the Federal Building in Minneapolis, Minn., as program director for recruitment of nurses covering a six state area. After three years of recruitment duty she was transferred to the Naval Hospital, Guam, Marianas Islands, serving in the capacity of assistant director of nursing services and educational director. Upon completion of her assignment at Guam, Mary received transfer orders to the hospital ship, USS Repose, AH-16, which at the time was on station off the northernmost sector of South Vietnam near Chu Lai and Da Nang, in support of military operations in the I Corps area. She functioned in the capacity of director (chief) of nursing services. Upon completion of her year's obligated service aboard the Repose, she returned to the Naval Corps School, Great Lakes, Ill., as director of nurse programs for hospital corps training. In 1968, she was one of only 25 elite women who were promoted to the prestigious rank of CAPTAIN in the Nurse Corps, and later she was assigned to the U.S. National Naval Medical Center, Great Lakes, as director of nursing services, her final assignment.

After a stellar military career, "CAPTAIN K," as she was affectionately known, retired in 1970 after 27 years in the Navy. Her entire life has been one devoted to service, God, her family and her country.

Besides her parents, CAPT. Kovacevich was preceded in death by her stepfather, Thomas N. Kovacevich; six brothers, George, Joseph, Nicholas, Thomas, Frank and James; and three sisters, Magdaline Mauro, Ann Dowling and Helen Dran. She is survived by one sister, Agnes Katalenic, of Lansing; and by numerous nieces and nephews, great-nieces and nephews, and great-great-nieces and nephews.

She was a charter member of the Navy Nurse Corps Association, The Retired Officer's Association, life member of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, member of the Vietnam Veterans of America, Croatian Fraternal Union of America, and longstanding member of St. Sebastian Catholic Church.

Friends may call at the Lakeside Memorial Chapel, 806 Putnam St., in Wakefield, on Thursday, Jan. 24, from 5 to 7 p.m., where the Rosary will be prayed at 6 p.m.

Visitation will continue on Friday, Jan. 25, from 10 to 10:45 a.m., at St. Sebastian Catholic Church, 210 E. Iron St., in Bessemer, where a Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m., with the Rev. Dominic Agyapong, celebrant.

Following the Mass, military rites will take place at the church under the auspices of Bessemer American Legion Post 27 and Bessemer Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3673 Honor Guard, assisted by the U.S. Navy Funeral Honors Team.

A luncheon will be served at the church hall following the military rites.

Rite of Committal and interment will take place at Hillcrest Cemetery, Bessemer, in the spring.

Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to Jerald Rocco, owner and manager of Lakeside Memorial Chapel Inc., in Wakefield. Condolences may be expressed online at


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