Charlotte Winters, the last surviving female World War I veteran, has died, the U.S. Naval District in Washington said Wednesday. She was 109.
Winters, who served as a yeoman in the U.S. Naval Reserve, died Tuesday at Fahrney-Keedy home near Boonsboro, The (Hagerstown) Herald-Mail reported. She was born Nov. 10, 1897, in Washington.
She served at a gun production facility at the Washington Navy Yard and in other positions there until she retired in 1953. Her friends told the Herald-Mail she was proud of her work as a secretary for the U.S. Navy. But they said she didn't understand what all the fuss was about as she got older and there were fewer and fewer WWI veterans alive.
"Why are they doing this for me? I don't deserve all this," Doug Bast of Boonsboro recalled her saying.
Her friend Kelly Auber said Winters told Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels in 1916 that women should be allowed to join the service. When women were allowed after March 1917, Auber said, Winters and her sister were quick to participate.
By December 1918, the Naval District said more than 11,000 women had enlisted and were serving in support positions such as secretarial and clerical jobs.
Winters' funeral is planned Friday at the Bast Funeral Home in Boonsboro. She will be buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Frederick.