Dorothy Bates Lamkin – Lieutenant, United States Navy

From a contemporary press report:

A Defense Department retiree, died of cancer at her Starkville, Mississippi home on April 13, 1997.

Knowing almost from her birth in San Diego, California, that she was preordained to teach, Dorothy skipped happily through school to begin, at age 18, a rewarding 10-year teaching career in the Okolona, Kentucky School system.

At the height of WWII, she left for a 2-1/2 year tour of duty with the WAVES. Ensign, later Lieutenant Bates, worked virtually around-the-clock in Naval communications exploiting the code breakers' success in reading Japanese and German naval ciphers, especially the German Enigma Machine, used by the Nazis to send orders to their North Atlantic U-boat fleet. These efforts doubtless led to submarine sinkings and consequent saving of merchant vessels and lives.

After the war, she was persuaded to continue her employment as a civilian in the Department of Defense. An early assignment was to assist in developing the instruction set for what may have been the earliest electronic digital computer and then to test the performance of the machine before its acceptance. Along the way, she also took part in the development of computer software, especially operating systems, and capped her career with a stint as a career counselor to young would-be computer professionals, retiring at the end of 1973.

She is survived by her husband of 37 years, Mr. J.C. Lamkin of Starkville, Mississippi; and a brother, Thomas A. Bates of Jeffersontown, Kentucky. Funeral service with Full Military Honors Monday, June 16, 3 p.m. at Arlington National Cemetery. Interment Arlington National Cemetery Columbarium. Please make memorials to the Mississippi Animal Rescue League or the Nature Conservancy.

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