Ida M. Clark

“She always wanted to be a missionary,” said Joyce Harrenstein, talking about her Aunt Ida. Only 11 years apart, the two were close and considered themselves more like sisters. “I remember how worried the family was when she started talking about going to England.”

Born to John A. and Agnes Britton on April 8, 1910, in Plankinton, South Dakota, Ida M. Clark was the youngest of nine children. The family moved to Nebraska in the next 10 years and she graduated from Trumbull (Nebraska) High School. Ida taught in an area country school for a few years.

Ida graduated from the MLMH School of Nursing in 1936. She worked as a hospital nurse and was the only full-time nursing instructor in the summer of 1940 when she read in the American Journal of Nursing about the shortage of nurses in England. Britain and France had entered the war, September 3, 1939, and all women of military age were conscripted into the war effort. An article in the Journal issued an invitation for American nurses to apply for duty in a collaborative venture, sponsored by Harvard University of Boston and the Red Cross to help meet the desperate need for nurses in England.

Ida applied and was accepted into a group of 100 American nurses selected to serve in this unique project.

Ida in her uniform

Years later, Ida typed her story, based on letters, documents and photos from her service abroad. We are able to make Ida’s story available to you, thanks to her niece, Joyce.

Please open the attachment and read how Ida proposed this adventure to her parents and how she prepared herself for a life-changing experience in England. Her story is one of romance, self-sacrifice, hardship and a grim look at the realities of war as well as a chance meeting with General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Ida returned to the States in 1943 and married R.B. Clark, a successful Chevrolet car dealer. They lived in Kansas and Ft. Dodge, Iowa, and retired in Cambridge, Nebraska. After R.B. passed away, Ida moved to Hastings. They had been married 45 years.

She died Friday, January 21, 2011, at Perkins Pavilion Good Samaritan Society-Hastings Village, Hastings, Nebraska. She was 100.

She was a faithful friend of Mary Lanning Memorial HealthCare, Hastings College and the Methodist Church, remembering them all in her estate.