WW2 nurse to receive 100th birthday parade
Helen Kleiber Rhodes didn’t plan to enlist in the Army, however much the Army asked her.
“When the war started, they’d wait outside every day from when she graduated,” her daughter, Susan Boeh, said. “She had a job, and they would meet her there every day and ask her to sign up.”
With her brother already fighting in World War II, Helen, a rural Tampa native, didn’t want to worry her parents by enlisting as well.
“She knew her parents wouldn’t want her to go,” Boeh said.
When she finally signed up, she worked at Fort Riley until the war ended in 1945 — always next in line to be sent overseas, but thankfully remaining in Kansas.
On April 2, a parade from Fort Leavenworth to her assisted living facility in Topeka will celebrate her 100th birthday as thanks for her service.
“When veterans turn 100, they have a parade for them if they live within 100 miles of Leavenworth,” Boeh said. “I’d never heard of it before.”
Rhodes’ relatives don’t know how large the parade will be, but they will join her to watch it pass the nursing home.
Rhodes’ husband, Frank Rhodes Jr., was a paratrooper.
“They both served,” Boeh said. “He was overseas the whole time. He was in the Battle of the Bulge. He was in some pretty gory things. My mom saw her gore at home.”
After the war ended, Rhodes became a housewife. When her kids were in school, she went back into nursing and worked at a doctor’s office in Topeka until she was 69.
“She had a good nursing career,” Boeh said.
Ten years ago, Boeh took her mother to Fort Riley to see her “old stomping grounds.”
“She kept looking for the hospital because she knew she could find her old marching grounds,” Boeth said. “I finally stopped and asked where the hospital that my mom would have served in was.
“There were two of them, and they’re not there anymore. That’s why she couldn’t find it.”