Barbara “Bobby” Smith of Two Harbors, died peacefully on Saturday July 9, 2016 at Ecumen Scenic Shores.
She was born July 13, 1930 to Calvin Harvey Smith and Marian Statesir Pace Smith in Huntington, New York. As a child, she grew up in Centerport, New York and lived there until third grade. She moved back to Huntington for high school, graduating in 1948. She attended college in Yellowsprings, Ohio majoring in general academics and art. Finding art interesting, she spent one year at the art institute in Chicago. Following the art course, she decided to enroll in a nursing program. After completing her three-year course, she began work in the hospital for one year.
In 1956, Bobby joined the Air Force and was sent to Gunter Air Force Base in Alabama for basic training. From there to Shepard Air Force Base in Texas. Japan was next for her and she was at the Tacaikawa Air Base for two and a half years. She also taught English to a group of Japanese nurses. Her return to the United States landed her in Michigan at the Sac Air Base. From there she was off to Alabama to attend flight school, where she graduated in the class of 61A, now a “flight nurse.” This brought her to Vietnam, working as a flight nurse transporting wounded soldiers either to Germany or to the United States. She also worked with the severely wounded in the hospital in Nam, the sights and smell never to be forgotten. While in Vietnam, Bobby was instrumental in the opening of the surgical unit. After her time in Nam, she realized she couldn’t work in a hospital again, so she resigned her commission as a Major and was now a reservist working in Minneapolis. Bobby received a Bronze Star along with a Purple Heart. She retired a Master Sergeant, with a total of 32 years in the Air Force.
This woman was on the move again, this time to Esterville, Iowa, where she had a flight school named Viking Arrow. She spent eight years there giving flying lessons. She moved to Two Harbors to live with another former Vietnam Army Nurse. Bobby, her good friend Penny Kettelwell, and five other Minnesota Nurses were involved in the writing of a book, “Sisterhood of War, Minnesota Women in Vietnam.”
Bobby enjoyed spending time as a member of the Two Harbors Art Club. Painting was a way for her to relax and she was an excellent artist.
Bobby’s friends will miss her and her humor.
She is preceded in death by her parents, and an infant brother, William.
Bobby is survived by her friends Milt and Sharon Larson along with their family and Penny Kettlewell.
A special thank you to the staff at Ecumen Assisted Living and Ecumen Scenic Shores for the loving care they all showed to Bobby.
Burial will be in Arlington National Cemetery.