Minnie M. Doane was a community matriarch in Carmel, but her career also took her to the South Pacific during World War II where she became the first American woman in uniform to land on foreign soil during wartime.
Miss Doane, who never married, was born in the Carmel area in 1910, graduated from Carmel High School in 1928 and went to work as a teller in a local bank. She survived a bank robbery there before leaving the bank to work for the Union Telephone Company.
She became a fixture for many years before Carmel had dial phones. Her voice as the friendly operator became legendary.
Her working years were interrupted by the war in which she enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps. She spent part of the war in Australia where she met General Douglas MacArthur while working in his headquarters during the years the Japanese occupied the Philippines and much of the western Pacific.
She returned to Carmel and the phone company where she became a supervisor, and worked until retirement in the 1970s. Her civic involvement was extensive. Probably her favorite organization was the Business and Professional Women’s group. She was also active in the Methodist Church, the American Legion, Girls State and various other community groups.
Minnie’s first name and the fact that she was a spinster might lead some to believe she was a rather straight-laced old maid. Not so. She was comfortable with veterans, politicians, businessmen and most all she met. She served on Carmel’s first city council from 1976-80, and later served another term where she lent historical perspective as the city dealt with booming growth.
“You should ask Minnie” was a common suggestion when someone asked about the background of an organization, an individual or an event in Carmel. She seemed to be involved in everything Carmel, and virtually dedicated her life to her community.
Minnie died in 1992. Her extensive collection of recognition awards and mementos was donated to the historical society.
A permanent recognition of her service was established when the popular gazebo on the City Hall lawn was built. Those visiting the site for summer concerts will notice a sign above the structure’s steps naming it the Minnie Doane Gazebo.