'General' nickname stuck with U.S. Air Force colonel since childhood

January 05, 2008|By MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail publishes "A Life Remembered." This continuing series takes a look back ? through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others ? at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Monna Louise "Scof" Mumper, who died Dec. 23 at the age of 74. Her obituary was published in the Dec. 26 edition of The Herald-Mail.

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. ? Growing up in a Civil War battlefield town, the four Mumper children often would engage in mock soldier playtime with the other children on York Street in Gettysburg, Pa.

During some of those childhood capers, Monna Mumper took on the moniker of German Gen. Hans Von Scofantini when the "York Street Gang" put on plays while World War II was raging elsewhere in the real world.

The nickname stuck, and until the day she died two days before Christmas at the age of 74, Monna was known as "Scof" or "Scofie" to her family and friends in Gettysburg and later around the world.


"We walked on the battlefield all the time," said Sandy Curfman, the oldest of the four Mumper children. Sandy, Monna and their only brother, Albert, were close in age, while Jayne Hicken, who lives in Nebraska, is three years younger.

They all had chores when they were growing up in the home of their parents, the late Joseph and Hazel Mumper.

"Monna didn't like housework at all," Sandy said. She recalled cleaning the upstairs of the family home while Monna was downstairs, "supposedly" doing the same.

Albert said he remembers that Monna always had her head in a book.

"She was an 'A' student," he said.

After graduation from high school, Monna completed her nurse's training at the York (Pa.) Hospital School of Nursing. A brief stint working in a hospital was followed by her entry into the U.S. Air Force in May 1956.

A year younger than Monna, Albert said he was just getting out of the military when Monna decided to join.

Monna toured overseas with the Air Force to England, France, Germany and Japan, all while assigned to Air Force hospitals. She also participated in airlifting the wounded from Vietnam.

"Monna said she especially liked Germany and England," Albert said. She and some of her fellow nurses took a Volkswagen trip across Europe while overseas.

Albert's wife, Lena, said she remembers visiting Monna when she was stationed at a base near Las Vegas.

"When we got there, Monna gave us each $20 for the slots," Lena said. The deal was that once the $20 was gone, no more could be spent.

At the end of the day, everyone had spent the $20 except Monna.

"She turned her $20 into $100, and bought us all dinner," Lena said.

At her funeral, nephew Tony Lambros told the story of how Monna was on a mission to pick up prisoners of war in Thailand when her plane was attacked and burned on the runway.

Playing dead as a child came in handy that scary night, Lambros read at the funeral. She escaped uninjured.

During her 25 years of Air Force duty, Monna earned her bachelor's degree in nursing in 1977 from Pepperdine University in California.

Never married, Monna told Albert once that she was quite able to open her own car doors. As for missing motherhood, Monna made up for that by maintaining close relationships with her nieces and nephews, he said.

After Monna retired from the Air Force in 1981 as a colonel, she had more time for family, her church (First Lutheran) and for her new passion, golf.

Sadly in her last three years, Monna had to give up golf while she battled cancer. And battle it she did.

"Her oncologist said Monna was a very gutsy lady," Sandy said.

Sandy's husband, Bill Curfman, was Monna's brother-in-law for 55 years. He said Monna was a very generous person who was nice to everyone.

"She sent cards to people all over the world," Bill said.

Albert said he and the rest of the family didn't really know how many lives Monna touched, especially during the last three years of her life, which were spent at the Penn Hall Nursing Center.

"She helped so many people at Penn Hall," Sandy said.

Albert said the nurses all came to the funeral with comments about how positive Monna was right up to the end of her life.

"She loved to help people," Albert said.

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