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Georgina Bruce's military service during World War II transformed the rest of her life, coloring the way she raised her family and inspiring her to travel the world in retirement.

Bruce, 86, who lived much of her life in Minnetonka, served as a member of the Women's Army Corps (WAC) in New Guinea and the Philippines.

She died on July 8 in Edina.

After graduating from Little Falls High School, she worked, caring for children and cleaning homes.

At the beginning of the war, she went to Long Beach, Calif., with a sister to work for Douglas Aircraft Co. In 1943, she enlisted in the WACs.

She had met a soldier, Lee Bruce, in Massachusetts, and after their courtship, they married on April 15, 1944. A few weeks later, she received her orders for the Southwest Pacific.

She would write of long sea voyages, primitive roads and the beautiful tropics.

Bruce recalled how she and her comrades climbed down cargo netting to waiting landing craft that shuttled them to the island of New Guinea.

Later in Manila, the Philippines, she was assigned to an Army engineers unit, rising to the rank of sergeant. Her job was to make sure the troops got spare parts, said her daughter, Pat Amy of Carver.

"One of her biggest pride and joys in life was serving," said her daughter.

Bruce told her family she was "never more frightened" than when she returned to Minneapolis, and dutifully traveled to Arkansas to meet her new in-laws in a "rickety old house" in the backwoods.

After the war, the couple moved to Minneapolis.

Bruce, who was military-neat, taught her children to make their beds as she did in basic training, "so we could bounce a quarter off it," said her daughter.

Bruce first worked for the federal government as a bookkeeper and clerk, spending the bulk of her career working for the city of Minnetonka.

In retirement, she and her husband split the year between Minnesota and Naples, Fla. She took a job there with the Collier County tax office, and rose to supervisor.

From the 1960s to the '80s, she took solo overseas trips, having caught the travel bug in the Army.

"She enjoyed every minute of travel," said daughter Pat, and her favorite books were those set in the South Pacific.

With other veterans, she recently toured the World War II Memorial in Washington.

"She was so proud that she had done her part," said her daughter.

Bruce and her husband moved back to the Twin Cities full time 10 years ago.

Her husband of 62 years died in 2006.

A daughter, Susan Vonhof, died in 1990.

In addition to Pat, she is survived by her other daughter, Jenny Klitzke of Chanhassen; brothers, Gene and Don Gohman, both of Little Falls, Minn.; eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

Services have been held.