Aldrich Vernon Cousins
WOJG in 23rd Headquarters Co
Born 1918 in MA, Died 2003
County of residence at enlistment: Worcester County, MA
Other residence(s): Leominster, MA
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: teachers (secondary school) and principals
College education before the war: Fitchburg State Teachers' College 4 years
College education after the war: Fitchburg State for masters in education
Aldrich Cousins was born on August 7, 1918, in Leominster, Massachusetts. He graduated from Leominster High School in 1937, and from Fitchburg State (Teachers') College in 1941 with a bachelor's degree in education. He filled out his draft card in October of 1940, and enlisted the following summer, September 4, 1941.
He was released from the Army on November 26, 1945 with the rank of CWO. A month later, on Christmas Eve, 1945, he married Thelma Helen Anderson of Old Orchard Beach, Maine.
They would go on to have two daughters and three sons.
Once out of the Army, and settled in Fitchburg with Thelma, Aldrich joined the Air Force Reserve, where he served for nine years, and went back to Fitchburg State to get his master's in education, graduating in 1947. After graduation he became a teacher in Leominster, and served the educational system in Leominster for over 50 years.
He and Thelma and their family moved back to Leominster in about 1950.
By the mid-1960s, Aldrich was teaching history, human relations, and sociology at Leominster High School, and became principal there in 1968, serving in that role for 11 years. The students affectionately called him "Uncle Ollie." He retired in 1979, and after a four-year break ran for, and was elected, to the Leominster School Committee. He was re-elected over and over again, serving on the school committee until after his 80th birthday.
He was also active in the Masons, the American Legion, and the Leominster Historical Commission.
In 2000, he was named Leominster Citizen of the Year, and the auditorium at Leominster HS was re-named and dedicated in his honor.
Aldrich Cousins died on February 24, 2003, and is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Leominster. His obituary mentions his involvement in the 23rd, and its role as a deception unit. A couple of tributes from former colleagues and students are worth noting.
Bill Lanciani: “Aldrich was one of the first principals I taught under and I was able to learn many of the ‘facts of education’ from him. He was an inspiration for many; administrators, teachers, staff and students. His devotion to education was constant throughout his life.”
Mary Ellen Kelley: “Mr. Cousins was principal of LHS during my junior and senior years. . . . I remember Mr. Cousins for his fairness, warmth, and smile. As an educator, I appreciate the demands of that job and the small amount of gratitude one receives. Belatedly, I thank Mr. Cousins for his outstanding contributions to education.”
1966 Leominster High School yearbook (clip attached)
1940 draft card
1942 enlistment record
1948 Fitchburg city directory
1970 article in Fitchburg Sentinel, active in Knights Templar
1977 Boston Globe article about his nickname
1987 Boston Globe article, elected to school committee
2003 US veteran's gravesite record
2003 Find a Grave record (contains biographical details)
2003 VA death record
2003 obituary and tributes