Loretta Perfectus Walsh was born 22 April 1896 in Olyphant, Lackawanna, Pennsylvania, the daughter of James J. and Catherine [Cummings] Walsh. She was inducted into the United States Navy as the first active-duty woman to serve in the Armed Forces on 21 March 1917. Read more about her military career in this post.
While working at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Loretta contracted the dreaded influenza which had already taken so many lives. Seriously ill for several weeks, Miss Walsh never full recovered. Loretta entered White Haven Sanatorium [White Haven, Pennsylvania] for treatment of tuberculosis. It was there she met Frederick Bowman, a tuberculosis patient and a veteran of the war. She and Frederick married on 8 June 1922 at St Madelyn’s Church in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania.
Sadly, their union was to be short lived. As Loretta Walsh Bowman succumbed to tuberculosis at the age of 29 on 17 August 1925 at White Haven. Her military career was acknowledged with a full military funeral, where friends and family gathered with distinguished military personnel to mourn the loss and celebrate the life of Loretta Perfectus Walsh.
- “First Girl To Enlist in Navy Becomes Bride.” The Scranton Republican (Scranton, Pennsylvania), 20 June 1922; [digital image online] Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com : accessed 25 March 2019), p. 3, col. 5, para. 17.
- “Nation’s First Yeomanette was Olyphant Girl, Now Dead.” Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, The Evening News, (Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania), 18 August 1925; [digital image online] Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com : accessed 25 March 2019) p. 2, col. 5, para. 1.
- Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1966, [database with images] Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 25 March 2019), entry for Loretta Walsh Bowman, file #81150, file date 17 August 1925.