Joy Bright Hancock, a yeoman in World War I who became the last commander of the WAVES before the separate women's group was integrated into the regular Navy, is dead.
Capt. Hancock was 88 when she died in Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland on Aug. 20, the New York Times reported this week.
Although still informally called WAVES (a World War II acronym for Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service), women on active military duty in 1948 were made an official part of the armed forces under the Women's Armed Services Integration Act.
Mrs. Hancock had been promoted to captain and named the WAVES director in 1946. She thus became the highest ranking and one of only six women to be commissioned in the regular Navy.
After World War I she left the service and married Navy Lt. Charles Gray Little, who was killed in a dirigible crash as was her second husband, Lt. Cmdr. Lewis Hancock, for whom a World War II destroyer was named.
She returned to college, learned to fly and in 1934 joined the Bureau of Aeronautics. She was one of the first women to be commissioned when the WAVES was established in 1942. At her retirement in 1953, she was assistant chief of naval personnel for women.