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The Greatest Generation Falls in Love

by Linnea Crowther

Legacy’s database is full of stories of couples who fell in love during World War II service.

Legacy’s database of more than 10 million newspaper obituaries is overflowing with personal stories from World War II. With a quick keyword search, you can find thousands of stories covering just about every topic related to the war: participating in D-day, flying with the Tuskegee Airmen, living on rations, surviving the holocaust, tending victory gardens, living in Japanese internment camps, working as a Rosie the Riveter, and more.

One topic in particular always makes me smile — stories of couples who fell in love during World War II service. Here are a handful of the thousands of World War II love stories that can be found on Legacy.


 Estella K. Kernan (The Oklahoman)Estella K. Kernan, affectionately known as “Tillie,” attended college at TCU and graduated from Oklahoma University in 1942. Tillie went on to be one of the first Waves in the United States Navy, reaching the rank of Lieutenant JG in 1943. In her assignment in the code room in Washington, D.C., during World War II, she met her husband, Phil, her commanding officer, and they were married in November 1944. She told the story many times how Phil had given her a note ostensibly asking her to check it for “coding and sending” that said “How about a date?” Her response was an all business response: “The note is just fine, Sir.” Read more in The Oklahoman

 Emily Wiseman Lewis (The Sacramento Bee)After graduating from St. Vincent’s School of Nursing, Emily Wiseman Lewis joined the U.S. Army and was stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina with the 65th General Hospital. While there, this adventurous young lady saw an advertisement to sign up for the combat-ready unit of the 810th Air Evacuation Unit, and against all odds, (including her Superior Officer who tried to block her) she was selected along with only three other nurses. As fate would have it, she also met and married another 1st Lieutenant who was stationed at Fort Bragg, C.T. Wiseman (Tom), right before she was deployed overseas. Emily shipped out to Bottesford, England, which would be her home base for the entire war period until she was discharged in 1945. Emily saw a lot of the war during her time overseas. Her first assignment came in England and involved the raid on Schweinfurt, Germany. When the B-17s returned to the bomber base, Emily and her fellow nurses and doctors were on hand to crawl into the planes and bring the men out to the ambulances and back to the hospitals. Her experiences during the War were able to give her the strength to handle just about anything, and defined her later life. She was given the honor of ‘Arkansas Traveler’ for her service and was featured in Ken Burn’s PBS Documentary THE WAR, where she shared her stories including being at D-Day plus 5, ferrying wounded soldiers off the beaches at Normandy, sitting on gas cans as she flew the wounded back across the English Channel, and as a field nurse behind enemy lines in the Battle of the Bulge, where her group of nurses were called ‘Patton’s nurses.’ Read more in The Sacramento Bee

Ann Katherine Parks (Arizona Daily Star)Growing up during the Great Depression, Ann Katherine Parks developed a talented and independent spirit that would embolden her to embrace the challenges and new opportunities life would bring her way. After the United States became involved in World War II, Ann joined the Women’s Army Corps. A young beauty, she was featured in an article in the Baltimore Sun about women who signed up to serve their country. During these years, she began seeing a young pilot, Ira “Bud” Parks, who was serving in the 82nd Airborne. The two met during a Paul-Jones dance, where girls form an inner circle, facing the outer circle made up of boys. The two circles move in opposite directions while the music plays. When the music suddenly stops, the boy and girl facing each other then pair to dance together to the next song. Ann stopped at Bud, and the two had their first dance. They soon became engaged, and were married. Ann joked that her bridesmaids were comprised of paratroopers from the 82nd. After the war ended both were honorably discharged from the Army. Read more in the Arizona Daily Star

 Naomi Ueberrhein (Santa Cruz Sentinel)Naomi Ueberrhein graduated from Bowling Green University with a B.S. in Education. Later in life, she would obtain a Masters Degree in Physical Education. Naomi was a teacher for two years before the war. She then volunteered for three years of service in the Red Cross as a recreation instructor, rehabilitating service members in stateside hospitals. It was one of the greatest experiences of her life. She developed a love of sport fishing and a lifelong dislike for playing bingo. It was during her service in the Red Cross that she and friends attended a dance at the Officers’ Club in Memphis, Tennessee, where she met “the most handsome young officer.” His name was Ed Ueberrhein and he was soon to become her husband. Naomi and Ed made their way to California after World War II and were married in Berkeley on April 5, 1946. Read more in the Santa Cruz Sentinel


Originally published May 2012


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