During World War II, Helen Babb Boots was one of the first recruits in the Women’s Army Corps. Her brother was needed at home on the farm, and she felt that someone from her family should serve.
After her service ended in 1945, Boots developed a passion for The American Legion Family. She was a Legion post commander and eventually became an ALA department president. So, it is no surprise that when her American Legion Auxiliary unit needed to meet its quota, Boots signed her daughter up as a member, even though she was living in Europe at the time with her husband who was stationed there.
Unbeknownst to Boots, her daughter, Mary Davis, would grow to love the Auxiliary and serve in its highest volunteer leadership position: as national president during the 2016-2017 administrative year.
Not only is Boots the reason Davis became a member, but her WWII service is also one of the main reasons Davis remains such a strong advocate today for the Auxiliary.
“I am so proud of what she represented, and that is the reason I became a part of the Auxiliary,” Davis said.
One of her great passions within the Auxiliary is the organization’s impact on children. Davis shared this passion with her mother, who was a special education teacher. The work that Boots did allowed Davis to see the importance of empowering young people.
“One of the most important things I see is that the American Legion Auxiliary teaches young women how to be good citizens and empower them with a self confidence that they may or may not have received anywhere else,” Davis said.
A shared love of these ideals brought Davis and her mother close and made them great advocates of the ALA’s mission. That’s why, when her mother passed in early 2019, Davis knew a gift to the ALA would be the greatest way to honor her.
“The American Legion Auxiliary is so ingrained in our family,” Davis said.
“That’s the first thing that came to my mind, and that’s the only thing that came to my mind. It’s a way that Mom could continue giving.”
Davis, a resident of Washington state, wanted to make sure it was easy for others to contribute to the ALA’s mission by providing more than just the ALA Foundation name in her mother’s obituary. Including details or a link and phone number made it more likely for people to choose a donation over flowers. Leaving behind the tradition of flowers made a lot of sense to Davis, who lives across the state from her family.
“I didn’t need to try and haul flowers across the state,” Davis said. “The money can be better spent, and better spent it will be.”