Flying high at 95! That pretty much describes Woodland Ridge Assisted Living resident Miriam Lloyd. She’s had a life filled with adventures – from joining the United States Navy during World War II to working in Washington, D.C., to recently being a part of the Honor Air trip for war-time veterans to visit the war memorials in D.C. Not too shabby for a farm girl from Wisconsin!
Miriam grew up on a farm in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. She became the church organist at age 16, and she worked as a housekeeper to be able to go to high school. Miriam wanted to see the world, though, so she joined the U.S. Navy at age 21 during World War II. For women, the age requirement for joining without parental permission was 21, and Miriam says her father would never have signed for her to join earlier, but was fine with it after the fact. After all, she was grown.
As for seeing the world, Miriam went to Idaho! She explains that women were not allowed overseas at that time. She was stationed at a hospital that was built to care for wounded soldiers sent back to the States from the Pacific theater. Miriam served in the hospital corps as a pharmacist’s mate until the end of the war. She says it was a wonderful experience and she always felt safe. In fact, the women didn’t even go into town unless they were accompanied by a military escort.
After the war, Miriam returned home to Wisconsin farm life where she met her husband, Gilbert. Ironically, they lived only 5 miles apart, but had not met before. Miriam says in those days young people met at dances, and that’s where she and Gilbert met. Like Miriam’s father, Gilbert was also a farmer. In fact, he had not served in the war because he was the oldest son of a farm family. Miriam and Gilbert married and raised 3 children on their Wisconsin farm. Miriam also continued to be the church organist for 45 years.
When Miriam was only 47 years old, she was widowed when Gilbert died of heart disease. With young adult and teenaged children, Miriam refused to succumb to depression and, instead, set out on new adventures. She became very involved in politics and began volunteering for Wisconsin Congressman Bill Steiger. Steiger offered to help her get a job in D.C. if she was ever interested, and, in true adventurous fashion, Miriam took him up on the offer. Miriam moved to Washington, D.C., where she worked in an administrative capacity for the Department of the Interior for about 3 years when she was in her 50s.
Having the opportunity to return to the D.C. area in April of 2017 as part of the Honor Air trip sponsored by the Roswell Rotary Club was a special treat for Miriam. The day was a long one – starting at 3:00 a.m. in order to get to Roswell to depart on the chartered buses with the police escort to the airport, but she says she loved it. She said, “It’s hard to explain how you feel. Your chest is out to here” as she held her hands in front of her chest and then wiped a tear from her eye. The special honors bestowed on the veterans that day made a special impression. Miriam was especially glad to see the completion of some of the projects that were not finished the last time she was there in 2008. Her favorite spot, though, is the Washington Monument. Overall, Miriam said of the trip, “As the young people say, it just blows you away!”
Miriam’s spirit and legacy blows us away as well! She’s such an amazing and inspiring lady.