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McLean Air Force veteran honored as ‘living legend’ at 105 years old

Winnie Evans holds her Living Legend proclamation with representatives from the Military Women’s Memorial (courtesy Chesterbrook Residences)

Chesterbrook Residences has a certified living legend residing in its halls.

Major Winifred Evans, a resident of the McLean assisted living community since 2018, was honored last Thursday (Aug. 17) with a “Living Legend” proclamation from the Military Women’s Memorial in Arlington.

At 105 years old, Evans devoted her life to public service as a nurse in the U.S. Air Force, the Peace Corps and her local community, Chesterbrook Residences said in an announcement of the award.

“Acknowledging her sweet demeanor and friendly interactions would only be scratching the surface, as Winifred Evans is one of the most accomplished women we’ve ever had the privilege of caring for,” Chesterbrook Residences Executive Director Bremda Riggs said. “She is the epitome of a true living legend, and we are proud to call her not only our resident but also our friend.”

Born in 1917 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Evans is the great-granddaughter of Horace Bennett, a sergeant who served in the 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry during the Civil War.

Her interest in nursing was fueled by a desire “to make a positive impact on the world” after her younger sister, Betty, died from an illness, her niece Patricia Garrett told the Falls Church News-Press earlier this month.

Here’s more on Evans’s career from Chesterbrook Residences:

After receiving a B.S. in nursing from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master’s from Catholic University, Ms. Evans traveled to Oslo, Norway, and received a graduate certificate.

In 1955, Ms. Evans joined the U.S. Air Force, where she became Chief Nurse and eventually retired as a Major. After joining the Peace Corp in 1962, she traveled to Togo, West Africa and set up immunization centers vaccinating thousands of children. She continued to serve as a nurse in Thailand, Latin America, and the United States. She has traveled extensively, visiting every continent except for Australia and Antarctica.

Following her retirement from nursing, Ms. Evans continued to serve others and her community in roles at the Red Cross and Georgetown University, and as a clinical nurse in local homeless shelters. She is also supported the building of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial located in Arlington.

Opened in 1997, the Military Women’s Memorial has documented the stories of more than 300,000 female service members, though the memorial estimates that accounts for less than 10% of all the women who have served in the U.S. military since the American Revolution.

The Living Legend program recognizes female veterans who have reached the age of 100.

Evans credits her mother as the person who inspired her to attend college and pursue her dreams.

“I’ve learned that every challenge I had was experience for me and lesson for others,” Evans said in an emailed statement to FFXnow. “This award isn’t just mine; I believe it belongs to all those who supported me. I’ve been blessed my entire life!”

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