Eva Price always remembered everybody’s name.
During the long years of her professional career as a nurse in the U.S. Army, she rarely came home to Bangor. When she did, it was usually in the company of her dear sister Leila Pearson, who lived with her husband in Massachusetts.
“They’d come back for funerals. That was the only time we’d see them,” recalled distant cousin Dan Morrison of Eddington. “I come from a big family, and Leila and Eva always knew every one of us kids.”
Maj. Eva Marie Price, believed to be the oldest Army nurse in Maine, died Thursday morning at the Bangor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. She was 101 years old.
According to her obituary in Friday’s paper, Price was born in South Brewer in 1909 and graduated in 1927 from Brewer High School. In 1931, she graduated from the Hahnemann School of Nursing in Worcester, Mass., and in 1945 she entered the Army Nurses Corps.
Price sailed on an Army hospital ship down the East Coast and through the Panama Canal, to the Philippines and then to Japan, where she stayed for three years.
“She arrived in Japan one month and six days after the bomb dropped on Hiroshima,” Morrison said Friday. “She saw things that most people never see.”
Morrison said his business-like older cousin never talked about her wartime experiences.
“She just thought it was her job,” he said.
After leaving Japan, Price served in Germany and South Korea, as well as at Fort Lewis in Washington state, Fort Smith in Arkansas and Fort Dix in New Jersey. The last five years of her career were spent at Walter Reed Army Hospital in Washington, D.C.
Because of her distinguished service, she was one of several nurses from Walter Reed given a personal tour of the White House by President John F. Kennedy, Morrison said.
She retired in 1965 and moved back to Bangor, with Leila, in 1990.
In November, friends, family and other well-wishers gathered at University College in Bangor to honor Eva Price just before Veterans Day. The party was attended by Gov. John Baldacci, U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud and other dignitaries.
On Friday, after learning of Price’s death, Baldacci issued a formal statement of mourning.
“Eva’s dedication to the field of nursing and to her nation in war and peace has strengthened the fabric of this great country,” Baldacci said. “From serving as a nurse in the United States Army in World War II and the Korean War, to caring for soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital, she showed the leadership and skill that has made a difference in countless lives and supported this great nation in some of our greatest hours of need.”
Morrison said he has compiled Price’s military records and will submit them to the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
But his own memories of her are much closer to home.
Whenever she was visiting in Maine, he said, “She was always right there to give me a hug.”
And when her recent birthday festivities were over and the guests were taking their leave, she clung to him.
“She said: ‘Can you stay? Your hands are so warm,’” he recalled.
Eva Price is survived by her younger sister, Leila Pearson, and a number of other family members in the Bangor area.