WWII nurse from Eagle River will turn 100 on Wednesday — and she’s still looking forward to the Bear Paw Parade
Eagle River’s Charlotte Schwid has seen more than most during her century of life, but she still loves a good parade.
“She just wants to get up and go and go places, she loves fairs and festivals,” said Schwid’s daughter, Sharon White.
The Grand Parade during the annual midsummer celebration in her adopted hometown is a favorite for Schwid, who will celebrate her 100th birthday Wednesday during a party at the Eagle River VFW.
“Bear Paw we go all three days every year,” she said.
Wednesday’s celebration from 3 to 7 p.m. has drawn interest from as far away as Schwid’s native Virginia, where a local television station picked up on the story last week after the VFW put out a call for birthday cards for the local celebrity.
Schwid experienced a stroke a decade ago and doesn’t speak much, but her daughter verified the World War II nurse is excited for her big day.
“She is out of control excited,” White said.
Schwid’s no ordinary centenarian-to-be. Born before women won the right to vote, schwid grew up in Virginia, where she trained to be a nurse with the intent of becoming a stewardess. But World War II broke out while she was attending nursing school, her daughter said, so Schwid enlisted in the Army instead.
While in the Army, Schwid was stationed at a military hospital in Tidworth, England when the Allied invasion of Europe took place on June 6, 1944.
“She has a recollection of seeing the planes flying overhead,” her daughter said.
After the war, Schwid moved to Milwaukee, where she worked in a veterans’ hospital and met her late husband. A lifelong baseball fan, Schwid gained some local notoriety in Milwaukee when she was hired as the first stadium nurse hired at the city’s County Stadium when it opened in 1953. She worked at the stadium for four years, White said, during which time she got to meet the likes of baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.
“It was one of the happiest parts of her life,” White said.
Schwid now roots for the Brewers, but she’s still got a soft spot for the Braves — even though the team moved to Atlanta in 1965.
“To this day she just loves watching baseball,” White said.
Schwid moved to Eagle River 10 years ago after her stroke and now lives with her daughter, a 34-year area resident. White said Schwid is proud of her service during the war and in 2014 the pair took an Honor Flight to visit the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. The experience moved the former nurse, who has since attended each year’s Honor Flight homecoming when the plane returns to Alaska.
“Every veteran on those trips are really excited and really happy,” White said.
The public is invited to Schwid’s birthday celebration, and the VFW is soliciting birthday cards, which can be sent to:
℅: Charlotte Schwid
12110 Business Boulevard Ste 6
Eagle River, Alaska 99577
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated the year the Braves moved to Atlanta.