Non-Traditional Military Spouse Shares Her Story
Because of you, surviving spouses of retired enlisted Air Force, Air Force Reserves, and Air National Guard members have a safe home
Bertha met Rene in 1942 while they both were working at a state medical facility near Griffiss AFB, NY. Shortly after, Rene was drafted into the Army Air Corps as a mosquito bomber engine mechanic and served in WWII for 3 years. He had previously served one year in the Army in 1937.
Their courtship took place through writing letters and the two married in 1945 when Rene returned home.
While many residents have lived all over the world due to their husbands’ active duty careers, Bertha’s husband took a different route and joined the Air Force Reserves in 1947 and later the Air National Guard when his reserve squadron disbanded in 1963.
Bertha’s husband was recalled to active duty during the Korean War and was sent to Mitchel Field, NY for training for 2 months, so she and their oldest daughter accompanied him. After training, the family was assigned to Donaldson AFB, SC for a year. This was the only time Bertha considered herself a traditional military spouse, yet her husband had served in the Army, the Army Air Corps, the Air Force Reserves and the Air National Guard.
Bertha’s husband had a heart condition so they put in an application for Bob Hope Village in and moved in 1987. They enjoyed playing bingo together and socializing with their friends.
Bertha became Rene’s caregiver when he developed dementia. When she could no longer give him the care he needed, he was moved to a memory care unit at a nearby assisted living facility and passed away in 2004.
“Being alone was kind of rough at first,” Bertha said. “But after a while, time heals everything.”
At 95 years of age, Bertha continues to live independently and is the current resident who has lived with AFEV for the longest length of time. “There are a lot of caring people here,” Bertha explained. “It is better than being in a house all alone. You don’t have much to worry about when you live here.”
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