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Retired Librarian Who Was Maine’s First Woman Radio Amateur Turns 108

09/26/2016

Mary Cousins, ex-W1GSC, who was the first woman in Maine to obtain an Amateur Radio license, celebrated her 108th birthday on September 20. Now a resident of a care facility in the coastal fishing village of Deer Isle, Cousins was treated to a party complete with a cake decorated with images of local newspaper articles from 1908, the year she was born. The confection also bore an image of her 1933 “Amateur First” radio license — issued to Mary Sibyl Wallace, her maiden name, by the old Federal Radio Commission, when Cousins was 24. The FCC came into being the following year. Cousins’ old call sign has since been reissued at least once. Cousins said she operated Morse, although she does not remember the code anymore, and used to relay weather information in that mode.

Four generations of her family attended the celebration. Cousins, a native of nearby Stonington, Maine, worked as the town’s librarian, a school bus driver, and a telephone operator. She said she never stops learning new things.

Cousins told Bangor TV station WFVX that ham radio in the 1930s “was something that the girls did not do, and the boys were all doing it at the time, and I said, ‘I can do it too.’ And I did.”

Her cake also bore images of Stonington as it looked in 1908, when Teddy Roosevelt was the US president. Enlivening the party were 108 balloons and live piano music. Cousins received and read cards from many well-wishers, including US Sen Susan Collins.

Her son John told WFVX, “When she decides she’s going to do something, she’s going to do it. I think 100 was going to be the goal. She wanted to reach 100. She did. And then she said, ‘Well, might as well go for 105.’ I think she’s working on 110 now.”



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