Eva M Veach
EVA MARY VEACH11 Dec 1926 23 May 2008 (P) 85635 (Sierra Vista, Cochise, AZ) (none specified) 482-26-1138 Iowa
On May 23 this year, our parish was saddened by the news of the unexpected passing of one of our treasured pioneers, Eva Veach. Eva had suffered from heart problems in the past, but just the day before she died, her doctor told her she was doing well.
Eva’s funeral was held at our church May 26, with Fr. Greg officiating and many friends and family attending. Her burial was May 28 at the Southern Arizona Veterans Memorial Cemetery.
Eva, a well organized person, had prepared her own obituary a couple of years before. In it, she told of the basic facts of her life. She had been born in 1926 in Centerville, Iowa to Roland and Rose Baker Veach. Subsequently they lived in Fort Dodge, where she went to a Catholic girls’ academy and a local junior college. Towards the end of World War II she worked in Washington, D. C. for the Corps of Engineers, and in 1949 she enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps. After graduating from the University of Maryland, on campus at College Park, she was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1954. By the time she retired in 1974, she had risen to the rank of lieutenant colonel, served at posts in Okinawa, Japan and Germany as well as the United States, and had received the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and other awards. Retiring to Sierra Vista, she enjoyed bowling, golf, and was extremely active in our parish.
Fr. Greg, when asked about Eva’s contributions to our parish life, said this: “Our Eva was a 100%-er in everything that she did! Her commitment to her Lord and to the Church was total - whether as a minister of hospitality, a Bible student, a Eucharistic minister, assistant at nursing home Masses, a lay associate of the Sisters of St. Agnes or simply a good friend to anyone who needed a little extra care and concern — whatever the Lord asked of our Eva, her answer was a generous and joyful ‘Yes!’ At St. Joseph Hospital in Tucson there is a plaque which states: ‘Life is God’s gift to you; how you live your life is your “thank You” to God for that gift! ‘ Anyone who knew our Eva would certainly agree that Eva’s ‘thank You’ to God was a very generous, joyful and grateful ‘thank You!’ ”
As her final act of generosity to God and to St. Andrew, Eva left the bulk of her estate, including her home, to our parish, where it will be used for our Building Fund.
About 30 years ago, Eva was one of a special group of friends, shown in this photo. Eva is front and center. Next to her in the front are Doris Caldwell and Joan Ploarde. In the back are Fran Miller, Mary Ellen Edwards and Virginia Gannon. All but Miller were in the service. Miller and Edwards preceded Eva in death, but Caldwell, Ploarde and Gannon remain. On a recent summer day, Doris Caldwell and Virginia Gannon met to share memories about Eva and their reactions to her passing.
Gannon said, ”I was devastated. I cannot believe she’s not here. She was just so much a part of us.” Caldwell echoed these sentiments, “It’s a total shock. I feel like I have lost a member of my family.” They recalled how they had met while serving in the WACs before they all eventually retired here.
Both Gannon and Caldwell had retired as full colonels, not because of any superiority to Eva, but more likely because Eva had served as an enlisted person for the first 5 years of her service, and thus had fewer years to serve as an officer. Gannon had been commissioned out of college, and as a fresh second lieutenant at Fort Lee, Virginia in 1951 remembers Eva as a sergeant there with a tough reputation. It was later that they became well acquainted and close friends, while attending the Officer Advanced Course at Fort McClellan, Alabama in 1962. They sat in the back of the class, and even cut up together. Virginia’s folks were in the area, too, “and just loved Eva.”
The WAC officers corps being relatively small in those years, the women remained in contact wherever their careers took them. Eva’s and Virginia’s careers met again when Eva was at the Continental Army Command (CONARC) headquarters at Fort Monroe, Virginia in the late 60s. Virginia had returned from volunteering in Vietnam and was doing recruiting in Newport News.
Doris had met Eva upon returning stateside from her own Vietnam service the year before. Doris had known Virginia in Vietnam. Doris was being assigned to CONARC and Virginia suggested she look Eva up. So back in the Fort Monroe/Newport News area, the bond between the three of them jelled. Virginia and Doris recall how one of them might be called upon to command the post’s WAC company when the assigned commander was on leave, and how they would be called upon to don their dress blues and serve Thanksgiving dinner to the enlisted troops.
Eva was the first to retire, doing that in 1974. She had visited Sierra Vista in earlier times and liked it. Virginia, who had served at the Electronics Proving Grounds in 1962, retired here in 1977, and Doris followed in 1981.
In Sierra Vista, Virginia and Doris became especially involved in civic affairs. Virginia served on our City Council, Doris on the school board. Both women have been involved for years with Art-in-the-Park, and currently both work with the Sierra Vista Historical Society. Eva was more involved with our parish, but worked with the others on whatever they were doing, too. The three friends likened themselves to the 3 Musketeers. They loved to travel together, whether it be taking river trips on barges and steamboats, fishing for salmon in Alaska, cruising in Hawaii or the Caribbean, or logging many miles in Virginia’s motor home. Virginia and Doris are not Catholics, but tell how, on their trips, Eva would always make sure, come Sundays, she knew where the nearest church was and the times of the Masses.
Suddenly, without their friend Eva, life will seem strange to Virginia and Doris. They will miss her truly, and so will we.