Local to make presentation on mother’s WWII cryptologist work


John Nestor, of Washington C.H., — son of the late Ada Nestor — will be the guest presenter Saturday, Feb. 11 at 10 a.m. at the Central Ohio Military Museum, located at 1010 High St. in Harrisburg, Ohio. Nestor will be presenting on Ada’s work on the “Purple Code” as a World War II cryptologist.

The public is invited.

The “Purple Code” was an encryption machine used by the Japanese government during the second World War. Little did the Japanese military know that the cipher technology had already been cracked by US military intelligence in 1941.

“Growing up, we had no idea our mother worked at the top-secret Army War Department of Intelligence in Washington DC, processing radio intercepts and deciphering the ‘Purple Code,’” John said. “We first learned this decades later when our mother stumbled on a declassified article in the Readers Digest about deciphering this code. She exclaimed, ‘That’s top secret and should not be in there!’ and then confessed, ‘I did that,’ after realizing the secret mission had gone public.”

“I was shocked,” Ada’s son, John, said. “But I always knew as an accountant she was unusually gifted working with numbers.”

The mission has since been declassified and was recently written about by New York Times best-selling author Liza Mundy in her book, “Code Girls.” Ada said she would still take many secrets to her grave, and no doubt she did, but not before being recognized by the U.S. Library of Congress.

The presentation for Feb. 11 was created by John’s daughter, and Ada’s granddaughter, Sarah Nestor-Lane of Tacoma, Washington, based on her documentation of the Code Girls’ work for the National Park Service.

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