Navy nurse remembers career fondly

t was a love of country that took Grace Foeller Davis from being a company nurse to joining the Navy.
“I wanted to help my country during the war,” Davis said. “I wanted to have a taste of service life.”
Davis is the oldest living resident at the Veterans Home in Retsil, near Port Orchard.
The 101-year-old former lieutenant commander was born in East Rutherford N.J. on Sept. 8, 1911.
After graduating high school, she attended Drakes Business College and then moved to New Jersey to work for Bell Telephone Co.
A year later, Davis enrolled in the Mountainside Hospital of Nursing in Montclair, N.J. and in 1936, Davis became a registered nurse. She worked several years as a nurse for Walter Kidde, a company that made fire extinguishers.
In that position, Davis was responsible for check-ups for employees and was in charge of the company clinic.
“The people I worked with were great,” she said. “I really liked working there in the clinic.”
But she had a calling to do more — to join the U.S. Navy. So she enlisted and became a Navy nurse, a career she enjoyed until she retired in 1964.
Davis loved getting orders and traveling to new places. She worked in San Diego, Hawaii and Japan.
“I enjoyed my work,” she said. “I worked in a lot of clinics and I enjoyed the people I worked with. Some people didn’t like working with civilians. But I did.”
Little did Davis know that she would meet her husband working at a Navy hospital.
During World War II, Commander Edwin Carrier Davis was in charge of a minesweeper in the South Pacific region. Edwin, whose passion was aviation, crashed in a hang glider. While recovering at a Navy hospital, he was cared for by Davis.
“He broke both legs in that accident,” she laughed. “He was in the hospital for about a year. But he just loved airplanes and flying.”
They were married in Yokosuka, Japan in 1955 and moved to Bremerton in 1957.
“We lived at different bases until my husband retired,” she said.
Edwin, who was from Dollar Bay, Mich., retired as a commander and was an authority on U.S. Navy aircraft of the 1930 to 1960 era.
She wrapped up a 21-year career in 1964 after a third stint at the Naval hospital in Bremerton.
“I had to set up a lot of clinics in my time,” Davis said.
After retirement, Davis spent time knitting, reading and going to church.
“I’ve always been busy with my hands,” she said.
For years, she drove her mother and husband to church service every Sunday morning.
Grace and Edwin moved to the Veterans Home in April 2008. Edwin, who once taught at Virginia Tech University, passed away a year later at 101.
Today, Davis knits, watches TV and once in a while sends a letter to a friend.
Although she’s not familiar with computers or emailing, she has an old typewriter behind her chair.
“I can still type on that old typewriter if I need to write a letter,” Davis laughed.
She never regrets joining the Navy.
“They hated when I left (Walter Kidde Co.) to join the Navy,” she said. “But I have never been sorry.”