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HomeBlocksFront-TopPair of WWII Veterans Celebrate 100th Birthdays at MonteCedro

Pair of WWII Veterans Celebrate 100th Birthdays at MonteCedro


On June 6th, MonteCedro celebrated the 100th birthdays of two of its accomplished residents, Jean Bruce Poole and Helen Devor.  Both happen to be veterans making it especially significant on this 80th anniversary of D-Day.

Honoree Helen Devor, MonteCedro Director of Creative Living Jackie Stevens, Executive Director David Weidert (hosts) and Honoree Jean Bruce Poole
Helen Devor served in the U.S Navy

Helen was born in New York City in 1924 and moved with her family to California when she was nine. “I was always a patriot,” she says, so she joined the Navy in 1944. Her first taste of service was bootcamp in New York. She was first assigned to Navy Pier in Chicago, before being transferred to San Diego. She laughs as she describes her role there as “basically, cleaning toilets.” In early 1945 she was shipped to Holtville, California where there was a naval auxiliary station.

During this time, she had been corresponding with her longtime beau who was serving overseas. He had been stationed in North Africa and was shipped north to be part of the D-Day landings. “I knew he was in it,” she says. “I was scared and terrified.” She didn’t know if he had survived the invasion, until his letters started to arrive again after D-Day. When he returned from service, they were married in 1946 at The Beverly Hills Hotel.

Jean Bruce Poole was a member of the Royal Naval Service

Her co-celebrant is Jean, who was born in London the same year. When she finished school, she joined the WRNS (Women’s Royal Naval Service, known as the WRENS). Jean was offered one of three roles, and chose to be a plotter, which worked with the latest technology at the time, radar, to track the destroyers that were accompanying merchant ships to England. “We tracked the ships on our tabletop that held a big chart of Britain’s East Coast,” she says. In 1944, after D-Day she was given the opportunity to work in Europe. Being under 21, she needed her parents’ permission. “I called and asked if I could move abroad. They said, ‘Yes. Where are you going?’ I replied, ‘I can’t tell you!’”

She worked in Ostend, Belgium as a plotter for minesweepers. After the war, Jean returned to London and in 1949 married John Shirley Ward, a native Pasadenan. They moved to Paris, where he was working on implementing the Marshall Plan. In 1951, now with their first child, the family moved from Paris to Pasadena. “Pasadena was quite different for me,” she laughs. First thing she had to do was learn to drive. Fuel had been scarce during the war, so driving lessons had been unavailable to her up until then.

When she reflects on her 100 years, Jean says “I’m surprised I made it this far. It’s gone by quickly. There are so many nice people here at MonteCedro. I have a lot to do, and so many choices. I’m happy and grateful.”

The community-wide celebration consisted of shared stories of Helen and Jean, toasting the two women with Champagne and enjoying birthday cakes. Over 150 residents and team members were in attendance.  The hosts made a point to recognize the 80th anniversary of D-Day, a day Helen and Jean remember all too well.

About MonteCedro

MonteCedro defines state-of-the-art in exceptional senior living.  At our 8-acre community in Altadena, residents enjoy the choice, freedom and flexibility all seniors deserve. With freshly prepared, award-winning cuisine, personalized health and wellness plans, and a commitment to lifelong learning, MonteCedro delivers the very best in independent senior living every day.

Proudly non-profit. Contact us today to learn more.

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