Mary Elizabeth Cooper Floyd was born in Critz, Virginia, and raised in Leaksville-Spray, North Carolina. She attended Leaksville-Spray High School and then performed clerical work in a cotton mill in Spray.
Floyd enlisted in the WAVES and completed basic training at Hunter College in New York. She was stationed in Washington, D.C., where she worked in the Radar Section of the Office of Research and Invention. She was later transferred to Long Island, New York, where she continued her clerical work, primarily taking dictation.
Floyd returned home after being discharged in 1945. She attended McClung business school in Greensboro on the GI Bill. While there, she met and married her husband, who had also been in the navy. She went on to do clerical work at General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC), but resigned after her marriage. The Floyds went on to have two daughters and a son and continued to live in Greensboro.