Virginia L. Evans, a former Army nurse who while serving in Europe during World War II cared for Gen. George S. Patton Jr., died Sept. 24 at Hope Hospice in Coral Gables, Fla., of renal failure. She was 98.
The daughter of Leonard Schmidt, a tailor, and Ascensia Schmidt, the former Virginia Lucille Schmidt was born and raised in Indianapolis, where she graduated from public schools.
Mrs. Evans was a 1938 graduate of St. Vincent's Hospital School of Nursing in Indianapolis, where she earned her nursing degree.
She enlisted in the Army Nurse Corps and completed eight months of training in Colorado, Missouri, Illinois and several other states. On Oct. 31, 1944, she boarded a former passenger liner to Liverpool, England. Mrs. Evans then boarded a small steamer Dec. 12, 1944, that took her across the English Channel to France, which had been liberated earlier that year by the Allied landings on D-Day.
"It was dark when we approached the shore," Mrs. Evans, a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, wrote of the landing in an account for the organization.
"We were wearing approximately 70 pounds of gear on our backs, and we were instructed to climb overboard using scramble nets as ladders to a landing craft. … Wearing our galoshes, we waded to dry land," she wrote.
Mrs. Evans and her fellow nurses were surprised to see Army vehicles driving with their headlights on, since they had just arrived from England, where blackout conditions were in effect.
Riding aboard a truck to a house where they would be billeted, the nurses asked their Army driver if the house would have heat, and he replied, "Sure, body heat."
What the five nurses found was broken windows and a room that was devoid of furniture except for a bed. On closer examination of the bed, they discovered the retreating Germans had booby-trapped it, so they chose to sleep on the floor, where they attempted to keep warm.
One of Mrs. Evans' most memorable wartime experiences occurred when she was serving with the 130th Station Hospital in Heidelberg, Germany.
On Dec. 9, 1945, General Patton and his chief of staff, Gen. Hobart R. Gay, were near Mannheim, Germany, for a day of pheasant shooting when General Patton's Cadillac limousine, driven by Horace L. Woodring, collided with a 21/2-ton Army cargo truck. The accident shattered General Patton's neck and left him paralyzed. The driver and General Gay were not injured.
"I happened to be on duty when General Patton was admitted to the hospital and I was caring for him the first days after his fatal accident," Mrs. Evans said in an 2006 interview with the Cape Coral Daily Breeze newspaper.
"She was the intake nurse and asked him where his dog tags were and he said they were in his footlocker," said Kimberly G. Evans of Carney, who is married to Mrs. Evans' grandson. "And she said, 'Is that where they're supposed to be, General?'"
He remained in the hospital until he died Dec. 21.
Mrs. Evans returned to New York in 1946.
"The Statue of Liberty was a welcome sight," she said in the newspaper article.
After being discharged in 1946 with the rank of lieutenant, she returned to Indianapolis, where she worked for 30 years with the Veterans Administration. She was working with the VA in Battle Creek, Mich., when she retired in 1976.
Mrs. Evans and her husband of many years, Loren Paul Evans, who had worked for John Deere in Battle Creek, moved to Fairwood Avenue in Hamilton in 1976. He died the next year.
Before moving to Cape Coral in 1995, she was a nursing volunteer at Good Samaritan Hospital, where she also helped organize the Lifeline Program, an emergency response system.
For many years, she served as treasurer of the Cape Coral Chapter 1002 of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, where she had been a member for more than three decades.
She was also a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and had been secretary of the St. Andrews and Cape Coral widow clubs.
Mrs. Evans was a former communicant of St. Michael the Archangel Roman Catholic Church in Overlea and was a parishioner at St. Andrew Roman Catholic Church in Cape Coral.
Interment with full military honors at Gardens of Faith Memorial Gardens in Baltimore is private, said Kimberly G. Evans.
Mrs. Evans is survived by her grandson; a great-granddaughter; and many nieces and nephews. Her son, Michael Evans, died in 2001.