Services held for last female vet of WWI

November 30, 1999|By ERIN JULIUS

FREDERICK, Md. ? Charlotte Winters' funeral Friday illustrated how much the world changed, and how much she helped change it, throughout her lifetime.

Winters, who was believed to be the country's last living female veteran of World War I, died Tuesday at Fahrney-Keedy Home near Boonsboro at the age of 109.

On Friday, at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Frederick, U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Nancy Elizabeth Brown and U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Lindsey Fistler said they were honored to take part in the service for Winters, who was a yeoman in the Navy.

"If it wasn't for Mrs. Winters and those like her, I probably wouldn't have the opportunity to be here and serve in the capacity I do," Brown said.


Winters met with Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels in 1916 to persuade him to allow women in the service. She and 12,000 other female yeoman enlisted.

For her service, Winters received full honors from the president's Navy Honor Guard. The most senior guard members were assembled for a "full show" in tribute to Winters, U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jesse Virant said.

Prior to the graveside service, mourners assembled at All Saints' Episcopal Church in Frederick.

Ceremonial guard members wearing blue dress uniforms escorted Winters' casket, draped in an American flag, to the church.

The Rev. Philip Wiehe called Winters "a model of how to live life well and with integrity" who was active within the church.

She loved her family, God and country, he said.

Winters' nephew, Denny Lynch of Baltimore, talked about his Aunt Charlotte. Lynch remembers Winters gardening at her South Mountain home and preparing dinner for her family. For years, he had "no clue" that she opened the door for so many women years earlier, he said.

"She quietly made a contribution to her country," he told the half-full church.

Winters, who was born Nov. 10, 1897, in Washington, D.C., lived to see three centuries, 19 presidential administrations, the Depression, the Civil Rights movement and more, Lynch said. She remained cheerful and positive through it all.

"People would feel that positive force," he said.

Following the ceremony, Lynch said Winters had been one of the nicest relatives a person could ever have. The military honors were a wonderful tribute to the woman who worked for the Navy for more than 30 years, he said.

At the graveside, U.S. Navy officers and enlisted personnel saluted as 21 shots and taps rang out. Cameras clicked as the ceremonial guardsman performed the elaborate choreography involved in folding the American flag that had been draped over the coffin.

Brown solemnly presented the flag to Douglas Bast, a longtime friend of Winters. Bast plans to display the flag in his Boonsboro museum, he said.

Winters worked at the Washington (D.C.) Navy Gun Factory, aka the Navy Yard. She was a yeoman second-class when she was discharged after WWI. Winters returned to her position at the Navy Yard as a civil servant until her retirement on March 31, 1953.

She met her future husband, John Russell Winters, at the Navy Yard, where he worked as a machinist. They were married Nov. 23, 1949.

Winters moved to Fahrney-Keedy Home in 1990 and donated her Navy uniforms, copies of the publication "The Notebook," which describes her meeting with the Secretary of the Navy, and her other Navy memorabilia to the Navy Museum.

The Herald-Mail Articles