no child surviving, defendant and additional defendant argue that their contention that the statute fixes the order of priority of the claimants as (A) Mary Trathen Kerrigan, his widow at the time of his death, and (C) Stephen Trathen, his father.
At what point of time do the claimants have to be 'then in being' in order to receive the remaining unpaid installments? It seems to me that the logical and plain meaning of the above language of the statute is that 'then in being' refers to the point of time 'at the death of any beneficiary'. As applied to the instant case, the claimants must be 'then in being' at the time of Catherine Wills Trathen's death on May 25, 1949.
'Widow' is defined as an unmarried woman whose husband is dead. Bouvier's Law Dictionary 3454, (Rawle's 3rd Rev. 1914); Funk & Wagnalls New Standard Dictionary of the English Language 2711 (4th Ed. 1923).
Therefore, since Mary Trathen Kerrigan remarried on May 26, 1945 before Catherine Wills Trathen died, Mary Trathen Kerrigan lost her status as Henry R. Trathen's widow and thereafter was not entitled to receive any installments remaining unpaid at the named beneficiary's death.
Moreover, the intent of Congress in passing the National Service Life Insurance Act was to provide a method whereby the dependents and other close relatives of service personnel killed in action would be assisted during the period of adjustment following the death. This intent is evidenced not only in Section 602(h) but also in Sections 602(d), (g) and (j) which limit possible beneficiaries to the serviceman's immediate family and closest relatives. See United States v. Kwasniewski, D.C., 91 F.Supp. 847, 853; McDonald v. United States, D.C., 91 F.Supp. 163, 170; Neuhard v. United States, D.C., 83 F.Supp. 911, 914.
I think it apropos to observe that obviously the marriage of Henry R. Trathen and Mary Trathen Kerrigan was not overly compatible since he saw fit to name his mother rather than his wife as his sole beneficiary and since his wife remarried less than two months after his death, and that his wife has in no way been dependent upon him or his estate since at least the time of her remarriage.
To hold as defendant and additional defendant contend would be to omit completely the words 'then in being' and to make the statute read 'to the person or persons within the classes hereinafter specified and in the order named'.
Congress used the words 'then in being' deliberately. To interpret the statute as the defendant and additional defendant desire would render these words meaningless, and would be contrary to the rule of statutory construction that courts must not interpret statutes in such a manner as to make any part superfluous unless no other construction is reasonably possible. Platt v. Union Pacific Railroad Company, 99 U.S. 48, 58-59, 25 L. Ed. 424; Smith v. Day & Zimmerman, Inc., D.C., 65 F.Supp. 209, 211.
Furthermore, the statute expressly prohibited Mary Trathen Kerrigan's right from vesting at the time of Henry R. Trathen's death in 1945. Section 602(i)
provides that 'No person shall have a vested right to any installment or installments * * * .'
All cases cited by defendant and additional defendant are distinguishable from the instant case. Those cases under the National Service Life Insurance Act raised the question whether the deceased's 'wife' was his lawful wife so as to be able to take the proceeds immediately upon his death, not as in the instant case whether the lawful wife must remain unmarried in order to qualify as his widow upon the death of the named beneficiary.
Two cases were called to my attention wherein the widow, claiming the installments remaining unpaid upon the death of the named beneficiary, had remarried sometime prior to the determination of those suits. However, the precise issue now before me apparently was not presented in those cases, for it was not considered in those opinions. See Angle v. Baker, D.C., 94 F.Supp. 386; Blanchard v. United States, D.C., 91 F.Supp. 889.
Accordingly, for the reasons stated in the foregoing opinion, the defendant's motion for summary judgment in favor of additional defendant is denied. Plaintiff's motion for summary judgment is granted.