Veteran of the Week: Bearden reflects on years as WWII WAVE
By PHOEBE DONALD ROBINSON / Community Columnist
Dorothy “Dottie” Phillips Lefkovits Bearden, born in Ohio on July 18, 1923, enlisted in the United States Naval Women’s Reserves on June 1, 1944, in Cincinnati, Ohio, when she did not have money to continue her college career.
She was a WAVE, Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service.
Women were not granted permanent status in the Armed Services until June 12, 1948.
Phillips went to Boot Camp at Hunter College, N.Y., where she trained for six months as a telegrapher.
“I learned code on a special typewriter that had more keys than a regular typewriter,” said Bearden. “We had to be perfect, no mistakes. I typed for 12 hours a day, 28 days straight then had a weekend off. I worked in the Code Room at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. There were 92 girls and we lived at the Benjamin Franklin Hotel. In three months I was promoted to Telegrapher First Class and had the responsibility to get the right codes to the right place.”
Bearden was awarded the American Theater and WWII Victory Medals. She met her first husband Army Ammunitions Supply Officer Alvin Lefkovits while he was on leave before shipping out to France.
Lefkovits was owner of the Columbiana Leader on Main Street with his brother Norman and wanted Dottie to come to Columbiana after the war.
After her discharge from the WAVES on March 5, 1946, she came to Columbiana, was soon engaged and married to Alvin.
Alvin and Dottie lived with Norman and Sonya Lefkovits for seven years. Norman and Sonya had two children, Norman Jr. and Marsha, who loved their Aunt Dottie and Uncle Alvin as second parents.
The two families worked in the Columbiana Leader, which was founded in 1897.
They worked together in the store for 20 years until Alvin had serious health issues that resulted in the amputation of both his legs.
Dottie took care of him till his death in 1966. One of their favorite excursions was to go to Shelby County High School football games.
In 1968 Dottie remarried Alvin’s good friend and widower Homer Bearden, who died in 1984.
Today Bearden lives in Hidden Acres in Chelsea.