Salvation Army to honor ‘Doughnut Girl’: Suzanne McLean celebrating 100th birthday

HANCOCK — At 100 years old, Suzanne McLean has either seen or participated in many historical events.

On June 17, 1917, three months after the United States entered World War I, McLean was born in Carmel, California, a place R.L. Stevenson wrote was the most beautiful meeting of the land and sea.

When the United States entered World War II, McLean was 24 years old, Tom Mulinix, planned giving representative for the Salvation Army, wrote in a website article.

“Her ‘paradise life’ would be altered in a direction she could never have imagined at the time,” Mulinix said. Fort Ord, a military base in the Monterey area housed as many as 50,000 soldiers at a time.

The Salvation Army set up services to soldiers near all the major military bases throughout the United States, including Fort Ord, according to Mulinix.

“This was the well-known USO (United Services Organization) which offered social outlets for the soldiers including entertainment, recreational activities and food,” he stated.

“The most famous food served was the iconic doughnut,” he wrote. The doughnuts were served by female Salvation Army volunteers who were affectionately called “Doughnut Girls.”

Carrying on that tradition, which began during World War I, during the Second World War, McLean was one of the local Doughnut Girls serving the soldiers of Fort Ord. That is how she met a naval officer who would become her husband.

McLean, now a long-time Houghton resident, will be present during the Hancock Salvation Army’s upcoming celebration of the organization’s connection to the doughnut.

Leonida Schweigert, corps administrator, said at the celebration fundraiser, McLean will be the guest of honor at the event which will celebrate: 100 years of the Salvation Army’s Doughnut Girls serving the military; the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into WWI; and the 100th anniversary of the organization’s connection with doughnut.

“The guest of honor at the event will be Sue McLean,” Schweigert said, “a genuine Doughnut Girl during WW II who, coincidentally, will celebrate her 100th birthday on June 17, which is (during) National Doughnut Month.”

The event is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. June 23, at the Salvation Army headquarters at 408 Ravine Street in Hancock. Admission to the event is $5, admission for children under 6 is free. For more information, please call 482-3420.