Katie was born in Chelsea, Alabama July 8, 1933, and graduated from Vincent High School Class of 1953. She was loved throughout life for her goodwill and kindness toward others and was always willing to help friends and neighbors alike. To her three brothers and two sisters, Katie was the sister that went out from the family farm and made things happen.
Katie had a vision for her life, as a part of that vision, she joined the United States Navy Aug 3, 1953, as a 112-pound 20-year-old farm girl and ended up serving over seven years and ½ years in our nation’s naval service! Her training in the Navy began in Bainbridge, MA, and San Diego, CA, and then Nursing School in Colorado Springs, CO. She later lived in Chicago, New York, and Denver.
Family members recall the negative reaction when Katie told her mom she planned to enter military service. Mom silently fumed; however, her dad completely supported the decision. Her Navy Recruit Training Company photograph is covered with farewell messages from shipmates; a couple of them read as follows: “I’m sure gona miss that good harmonizing in the scrubhouse…You have been a swell shipmate.” Another said, “To the sweetest gal in Alabama, I wish all the luck in the world.”
Katie continued her military service with an occasional snippet from her mom until THE phone call…Katie on one end, dancing and exclaiming that her application for a scholarship in the Navy’s Nurse Training Program had been approved! Her mom’s attitude became positive as she bragged, a little, about Katie winning a scholarship to the University of Colorado’s Nursing School and beginning training in Sept 1956, graduating June 2, 1960.
Katie wrote letters home and included photographs of the huge snows in Boulder, Colorado. Her mom would read the letters to her 4th Grade Class and show her students what life was really like “out west”.
In March 2010, Katie traveled back to the University of Colorado for her 50-year Nursing School Class Reunion. Katie’s community service was legendary. In Sept 1970 she returned to her family roots in Chelsea, Alabama, and began her teaching career at Shelby Elementary retiring after 16 years of service. Katie served as principal of Shelby Elementary for the last two years of her teaching career. She continued her certification as a teacher via a Master of Education degree from the University of Montevallo in August 1972.
Contributing writer Thomas C. Holcombe