Ethel Kuter, Air Force Spouse

Mrs Ethel Kuter was the spouse of Lt Gen Laurence Kuter. General Kuter retired after 35 years of service after serving as commander in chief of the North American Defense Command, a post he assumed in 1959. His service record was remarkable, as was hers. 


Ethel was the epitome of a military spouse both in everyday moments and in force-wide projects. Along with Hollis Giles, Kit Edwards, and Dorthy Grant, with the sponsorship of Mrs. Bee Arnold, Ethel adapted the Army Spotters program for the brand-new Air Force and installed it nationally across all bases. The Spotters were spouse volunteers who welcomed incoming spouses and found them either a volunteer position that supported the war effort or a paid position if their family needed the income. She did this while waiting for news of her husband overseas during WWII.  

Years later, the Kuters were stationed at Maxwell AFB. In 1954, a fellow spouse wrote to Ethel asking for help. Her husband was about to step into command and she didn’t know how to accomplish her role. In response to this inquiry, Ethel leveraged the Maxwell Officer’s Wives Club and created “An Orientation Course for Wives of Potential Commanders.” For this effort, the club gained the full support of the leadership on base, created a spouse run daycare called the Fledgling Hangar, and in the first iteration of the course, educated 1800 women. After the first course, some 100 wives clubs from across the country wrote to the Maxwell Wive’s Club asking for help setting up their own spouse orientations. Seven years into the course, they recognized another need and the value in inviting and educating NCO spouses in addition to officer’s spouses.  


In 2009 during the year of the AF Family, the AF recognized the immense value of this effort and fully funded the course that is now run by Ms Paula Flavell, a retired Air Force member and milspouse, at the Eaker Center.


Ethel’s efforts shaped the culture of the Air Force and reverberate to our spouses of today. We thank her for her service.  

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