She was born Vesta Maurine Coward on 26 March 1925 in Detroit, Michigan, the only daughter of Percy A. & Mildred J. (Paterson) Coward. She had three siblings, Thomas, Richard, and James. In 1940 her father was an inspector in an automobile factory (per U.S. census). She attended school in Dearborn, Michigan, including graduating from Fordson High School where she was a member of both the student council and the girl’s field hockey team.
Vesta attended Wayne State University (Biographies differ, one stating she graduated, and a second stating she left college prior to completion to serve in the military during WWII, the latter probably being accurate). When the United States military deemed her too young, she became a radio operator with the Royal Canadian Air Force (from 1943 to 1945). Continue reading