Bacon, Evelyn Crary, 1916-1997
Evelyn Thelma Crary Bacon was born on September 27, 1916 in Grundy Center, Iowa and was the youngest child of Elisha Avery Crary and Gertrude Minor Crary. By the time Bacon was 16, both of her parents had died and she was placed under the guardianship of her aunt, Nellie (Minor) Morrison. Bacon remained in the guardianship of either her aunt or her brother, Avery Crary, until she turned 21. After completing high school in 1934, Bacon moved to Los Angeles, California where Avery lived and practiced law. She attended Los Angeles Junior College for two years before transferring to the University of Iowa in 1936. There she earned a degree in political science in 1938 and a degree in nursing in 1940. She began work in December of 1940 as a staff nurse at Evanston Hospital in Evanston, Illinois. In January, Bacon joined the American Red Cross Nursing Corp which also made her a reservist in the Army Nurse Corps. She would have a lifelong affiliation with the American Red Cross. During the summer of 1941, she commenced work on a master's degree in nursing at the University of Chicago. In September, Bacon accepted a position at the University of Iowa, School of Nursing as an assistant instructor for nursing arts. She worked there until June of 1942, at which time she was called for active duty in the Army Nurse Corp.
Bacon was appointed a 2nd Lieutenant and assigned to the 298th General Hospital, comprised mostly of University of Michigan doctors and nurses. She had requested assignment to this unit and a recommendation by her friend Margaret King, a nurse with the 298th, made this possible. The 298th trained at Camp Robinson in Arkansas from June until October, when they were deployed to England. The 298th took over operation of Frenchay Hospital in Bristol, England. During her duty at Frenchay, Bacon was in charge of her own ward and cared for wounded officers from the North Africa campaign as well as prisoners of war. Bacon attended the Army Nurse Corps School at the American School Center in Shrivenham, England and subsequently became an instructor at the school in 1943.
After eight months at the school Bacon transferred to the 45th Evacuation Hospital and was promoted to 1st Lieutenant in April 1944. The 45th landed at Normandy on June 16th and followed the First U.S. Army as it moved through France and into Belgium. She worked most often in the OR seeing patients with abdominal, chest, and head injuries. Bacon transferred to the 5th Evacuation Hospital early in 1945, and was assigned to the postoperative care ward for neuro-surgical cases. She was in Germany when the Axis Powers surrendered and believed she would be sent to the China Burma India Theater, but the war ended before that occurred. Bacon was shipped home in September 1945 and remained in the Organized Reserve Corp until she was honorably discharged in 1953 with the rank of Captain.
After the war Bacon returned to the University of Chicago and completed her master's degree in nursing education in 1946. She taught at UCLA and the University of Iowa before enrolling in a doctoral program at the University of Chicago in 1949. However, before she completed the degree she met and married Franklin Bacon (1916-2004) and moved to Charlottesville, VA, where he was the Director of Extension Teaching at the University of Virginia (UVA). Bacon began her career at UVA teaching extension courses throughout the state for UVA's Cabaniss School of Nursing Education. She served as acting chair of the University's Department of Nursing Education from 1954 to 1956.
The Bacons moved to Richmond, VA in 1958, where Franklin became the Dean of Students at the Medical College of Virginia (MCV). Between 1958 and 1965, Bacon worked as a nursing education and nursing service consultant for various organizations including the Virginia League for Nursing, the Virginia State Board of Nurse Examiners, and the Virginia Department of Mental Hygiene and Hospitals. During this period Bacon also served as an associate professor and Director of the Associate Degree program at MCV (1960-1961) and as an instructor at MCV's School of Hospital Administration (1962-1963).
In 1965, Bacon joined the faculty of the Richmond Professional Institute as the Director for the School of Nursing. She guided the nursing program until 1971, when it was incorporated into the Virginia Commonwealth University, School of Nursing on the MCV campus. In 1972 J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College hired Bacon where she successfully planned and implemented a new associate degree program in nursing. She retired in 1985, but remained active in the fields of nursing education and nursing history. One of her many activities was assisting with the organization of the Virginia Nurses Association archives which was given to VCU's Tompkins-McCaw Library in 1985.
Bacon maintained a lifelong passion for nursing education and enhancing nursing curriculum. This is evident by her involvement in numerous professional organizations. She served as a board member, vice president, and president of both the Virginia League for Nursing and District V of the Virginia Nurses Association, in addition to various committee assignments for both organizations. She was also an active member of the American Association of History of Nursing, American Nurses Association, and National League for Nursing. Bacon remained very committed to the Red Cross and became the first woman chairman of the Richmond, VA Chapter of the Red Cross. Bacon was also engaged in civic and community activities. She was a member of the League of Women Voters and served as a board member and president of the Richmond chapter. Bacon enjoyed music and played both the piano and organ. She was a member of the Richmond Chorale Society and the Richmond Symphony Chorus. Bacon was an Episcopalian and a member of Grace and Holy Trinity Church in Richmond.
Bacon and her husband never had any children. They spent their later years living in Charlottesville, VA at Westminster- Canterbury, a retirement community. While a resident she served on the Health Services Accreditation Committee from 1995-1996 for the facility. Bacon passed away on October 27, 1997. She was interred at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.
Bacon was acknowledged by her peers as a pioneer in the field of nursing and nursing education in Virginia. As such she was posthumously recognized as an Outstanding Nurse in 1999 by the Virginia Nurses Association and in 2000 was named a Virginia Pioneer Nurse.