Elizabeth S. Loden, a military nurse during World War II who was known for her joyful spirit, helpfulness to friends and sumptuous garden, died March 12 of pulmonary disease at her Elkridge Estates home in North Baltimore. She was 85 and had been a longtime resident of Homewood.
Elizabeth Sophronia Blattner was born in Wright City, Mo. The youngest of nine children, she was orphaned at a young age and raised by her older siblings.
Known to relatives and friends as Bee, she received a nursing degree from Lutheran Deaconess Hospital in St. Louis. She worked at hospitals in Detroit and Los Angeles before volunteering for military service in 1942, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
A first lieutenant in the Army Nursing Corps, she was stationed in India, where she was attached to the Army Air Forces and then the 142nd General Hospital. Her final assignment was caring for military and civilian prisoners rescued from Japanese camps.
"She had never been out of Missouri, so for her it was an entirely new experience, and she was the kind of person who just dives into things," said a daughter, Elizabeth Christian of Philadelphia. "She loved new experiences, places and people."
While in India, she met Daniel J. Loden, an Army major. Competition among the soldiers for her attention was fierce, her daughter said, but her husband-to-be used creative tactics to woo her. Mrs. Loden described him as one of the most polite men she had ever met, though it turned out later he was worried about germs from the hospital because he hadn't received all his vaccinations.
The two married in 1946, after they were discharged, and moved to Mr. Loden's hometown of Baltimore. Mr. Loden, an advertising executive, died in 2004.
Mrs. Loden lived for 45 years in Homewood, where she was known as a hostess and gardener and a neighborhood linchpin. Many of her neighbors came to rely on her as a confidante and for support and would call on her with medical questions or when an emergency arose, said Jo Krause, who lived nearby.
"She was very subtle in her way of helping others. They were disarmed by her warmth," Mrs. Krause said.
Mrs. Loden always remembered birthdays and had a quick sense of humor, amusing friends with Halloween costumes and short poems she would leave tucked into their front doors. She had a large number of friends of all ages, many of whom thought of her as their best friend, Mrs. Krause said.
"My mother came as close as possible to what pure love looks like. She was just so loving to everyone," her daughter said. "She also was a firm, firm believer in laughter as a key ingredient to health."
A funeral Mass will be offered at 11 a.m. tomorrow at St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church, 103 Church Lane, Cockeysville.
In addition to her daughter, she is survived by a son, John Loden of Napa, Calif.; another daughter, Kathleen Loden Barbuti of Timonium; and three grandchildren.