“WAAC, Wisconsin Girl, Teacher:” Putting a Near-Century of Life into Words

 As a member of the WAAC (Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, later known simply as WAC), which formed early in the United States’ involvement in WWII, who had been a longtime resident of the north Bossier community of Plain Dealing, the 2017 obituary of Dorothy “Chris” Christoffersen Walker caught my eye. I had actually been scrolling through digitized historic newspapers looking for something else entirely, but I always want to know more about local WACs. The obituary comprehensively covered the scope of her 99 years, and it also had me wanting to know more.

Dorothy started her life as a small-town Wisconsin girl, the child of Norwegian immigrants. She was an honor roll student in Menasha High School, and received her college degree from Iowa State in 1939, where she won an award for her outstanding leadership in YWCA activities while in college. She stayed in Iowa and taught home economics and then went back to Wisconsin to teach the subject in the School of Vocational and Adult Education in Marshfield.

During her time in Marshfield, the local newspaper issues were peppered with household tips from Miss Christoffersen, under the byline, “Have you Heard? By D. Christofferson” or “Dorothy Christoffersen says.” Some pretty handy advice would follow: An empty baking powder can is an excellent device for chopping cooked potatoes into small pieces for frying or creaming. Or, A little salt sprinkled in the pan before putting in fat helps to prevent grease from sputtering when meat is fried. She also was in demand as a guest speaker or instructor in the community. This was wartime, and home economics, promoting how to run a household well and efficiently in a time of shortage and sacrifice, was a serious subject.

Dorothy, however, wanted to go afield and make an impact beyond the literal home front. On December 18th, 1942, in Milwaukee, Dorothy Christoffersen was sworn into the WAAC to serve as an officer. The Marshfield News-Herald shows that the Board of Vocational and Adult Education accepted her resignation on Dec 30th. They could not approve her initial request for a leave of absence because she’d not been in their employ for the required year. Amazingly, considering she appeared in the Marshfield newspaper over fifty times since the beginning of her tenure at the vocational school, she’d only been in the position for four months.

As it turned out, she would not be returning to Wisconsin. While serving as a WAAC, Dorothy, who went by Chris, met fellow officer Elmer Scovell Walker, a B17 bomber pilot. She married Capt. Walker, who went by Scovell, in Greensboro, North Carolina in August, 1944. Following the war, they settled in Scovell’s hometown of Plain Dealing, La. If the young couple had any thoughts of instead returning to Chris’ home state of Wisconsin, perhaps their wedding gift of the Square Deal Plantation in Plain Dealing, homesite of Scovell’s ancestor and “town father,” George O. Gilmer, persuaded the couple to head South.

A forester with a degree from LSU, Scovell Walker kept the plantation a certified tree farm, as well as worked for 30 years for the S.H. Bolinger lumber company. Mrs. Walker raised three children and taught school in Plain Dealing at Plain Dealing High School (in the junior high section) and Plain Dealing Academy. According to her obituary, “She was appreciated by countless former students and loved by family and friends.”

Though they cannot tell the whole story of a life, obituaries are an important source of information for our researchers of genealogy and local history, and the History Center collects all Bossier Parish-related obituaries and/or funeral notices that we find or receive. To donate to or research this collection, please visit or contact us. The History Center is located at 2206 Beckett St, Bossier City, LA. We are open M-Th 9-8, Fri 9-6, and Sat 9-5. Our phone number is (318) 746-7717 and our email is history-center@bossierlibrary.org