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A gift for opportunity

Jul 16th, 2012 | Category: The Back Page

Shared by Cynthia Harris, trustee to the Eleanore Kiersted Trust

Eleanore and “Chic” Kiersted

When Eleanore Gertrude Jones started her career in nursing, she never thought she would be the U.S. Army Air Force nurse in charge of “troop trains” during World War II ferrying the wounded from one shore to another.

One night she and the engineer had harsh words as the train huffed and puffed at a lonely depot in the middle of nowhere. The two sat waiting for the ambulance to pick up a wounded soldier who was on a stretcher. The engineer had reached his limit and started to build a head-of-steam to leave the depot.

Jones was not afraid of the engineer or the train and stood boldly in front of the engine daring the engineer not to move until the ambulance arrived to pick up the wounded soldier. She took her charge to care for the sick and wounded very seriously and was not about to let a soldier in her care be left alone on the train tracks in the middle of the night.

Eleanore Kiersted’s gift to UIW ensures future generations will learn the importance of caring for others.

Jones liked to tell her caregivers that she walked across the United States both ways on every train trip as the train cars had stretchers stacked up to three-high on both sides of the aisle.

As an Army Air Force nurse, she outranked Army Chief Warrant Officer Wynkoop “Chic” James Kiersted, but married him anyway on April 21, 1948 in Camp Hood, Texas. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Incarnate Word College in 1952. Upon earning a master’s degree from the University of Southern California in Library Science, she started a second career working in the Los Angeles County school system.

After she retired, she continued volunteering in many local school libraries around Santa Clarita, Calif. She was instrumental in creating a research library of Southern California history in the local historical society. She and husband Chic also contributed funds to the library and nursing scholarship program at College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita.

The Kiersted’s did not have children of their own and also wanted to give to UIW. She shared a generous gift of $25,000 to UIW’s Mabee Library so other people’s children could have the opportunity to learn to care for others as she had. She was born April 9, 1919 and passed away Dec. 14, 2010 at the age of 91.