Bessie T. Eaton, o92, f Needham and Osterville, died Dec. 20, 2013 at Maples Rehabilitation & Nursing Center in Wrentham after a short illness.
Mrs. Eaton was born in Manchester, N.H. to William M. and Bessie G. Titus. She was raised in Winchester and Boston, was a member of Trinity Church in Boston and graduated from Girls Latin School in 1939. Following graduation from Girls Latin, Bessie attended the Faulkner School of Nursing. In August, 1939 she and her fellow student nurses met Red Sox rookie Ted Williams, who signed their autograph books. She was delighted that she lived long enough to see the Red Sox win the World Series three times.
On Nov. 28, 1942, Bessie was an emergency room nurse at Faulkner Hospital tending to the victims of Boston's Coconut Grove nightclub fire, the worst night club fire in history. It helped prepare her for World War II. Bessie joined the United States Army Nurse Corp and was convoyed to England on the Queen Mary, one among 16 nurses and 6,000 GI's on board. She served in England at Odstock Hospital in Salisbury and later in various hospitals in France following the D-Day invasion. Bessie was promoted to the rank of First Lieutenant, a source of personal pride for herself and her family.
On Columbus Day 1946, Bessie married captain Henry W. ("Hank") Eaton, Fourteenth USAAF (Flying Tigers) at Trinity Church in Copley Square, Boston. They were married nearly 49 years until Henry's death in 1995.
Shortly after their marriage, Henry and Bessie moved to Needham, where they lived from 1946 through 1981. She was an active member of the Congregational Church. Bessie served as a nurse at the Glover Memorial Hospital in Needham from 1967 until 1981, when she and Henry retired to Osterville, and then to Madeira Beach, Fla.
She loved to swim, to read and go to the library, and she enjoyed spending time with her family. In 2004 she took the Queen Mary II to England and France to attend the 60th anniversary of the D-Day invasion at Omaha Beach and Ste. Mere Eglise, and returned again in June, 2008 to both Normandy and Reims, where she served in Army hospitals.
She is survived by her brother William M. Titus Jr. and Lauretta, his wife, of Ocean View, Del.; by her three sons, William H. ("Bill") and his wife, Rita of Atlantic Highlands, N.J., John W. ("Jack") and his wife, Kathleen of Wenatchee, Wash. and David A. and Suzanne of Norfolk; her grandchildren, Cdr. Charles E. Eaton, USN and Marlieke Eaton of Norfolk, Va. and Stuttgart, Germany, Geoffrey W. Eaton of Atlantic Highlands, N.J., James and Danielle Eaton of South Riding, Va., Elizabeth Eaton of Bloomington, Ind. and Thomas Eaton and Kerry Eaton of Norfolk; her two great grandchildren, Fleur and Charlotte Eaton; and many nieces and nephews. Bessie was predeceased by her parents, by her brother Clifford and by her husband, Henry.
A memorial service is scheduled for 11 a.m. Jan. 18, 2014 at Trinity Church in Boston.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her memory to Trinity Church, 206 Clarendon St., Boston, 02116.