Billee Juene Eby Hare dies, was among first women to join Marines in WWII

By MARY M. HEIDBRINK | San Antonio Express-News | Published: August 23, 2014

SAN ANTONIO — Billee Juene Eby Hare, who was among the first wave of women to enlist in the Marine Corps during World War II, and who for years created the elaborate crowns worn by the royalty of the Order of the Alamo, died Aug. 12 at 91.

A native Kansan, Hare attended college for two years in Wichita before joining the Marines.

She went through basic training at Hunter College and worked in a recruitment office in Kansas City before transferring to California to work as a secretary for Gen. Holland M. “Howlin' Mad” Smith, who eventually became commander of the Fleet Marine Force, Pacific, during the war.

Hare was inspired to be a Marine by her father, who had served in the Corps during World War I.

“She was very dedicated to our father,” her brother John Eby said. “Dad was really proud of her.”

Although Hare had a chance to attend officer training school, she opted instead to take a discharge and finish her education at the art institute of the UCLA.

She later received letters from the U.S. government urging her to register for the draft.

Because of her name, they thought she was a man, her husband, Dr. Henry Hare, said. “She never answered the letters — she said she looked forward to the authorities coming to her door and finding out she wasn't a man.”

Hare met her future husband while working as a secretary for Sinclair Oil in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The couple attended the same church.

After marrying in 1962 they moved to San Antonio, where her husband, a psychiatrist, started his practice in the Nix building.

Her life was soon filled with raising their two children and volunteering at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, the P.E.O Sisterhood, a sorority that raises money to support educational opportunities for women, and other charities.

Hare continued to create art, sculpting and painting in her home studio where, for 20 years, she created the headpieces worn by the duchesses and princesses of the Order of the Alamo.

They “decided what the theme would be, then they would make sketches,” Henry Hare said. “She would take those rough sketches and make them into the head- pieces they wore in the coronations.”

It wasn't always an easy task.

“She had a designated creative area ... with jewels and paints,” her son John Hare said. “She would sometimes stay up all night to make deadlines. She was very dedicated to any cause she pursued.”


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