Terhaar Hortense Oral History
Hortense Terhaar was born October 14, 1915 in Holdingford, Minnesota to Nicholas and Amanda (Thull) Terhaar. After graduating from high school, she moved to Iowa City, where she worked for the editor of Better Homes and Gardens. She worked as a nurse in the St. Cloud Hospital and then the St. Cloud VA before volunteering for the Navy in 1943. During the war, she took on a variety of roles, including dietetics and surgical supply at Norman, Oklahoma; Seattle, Washington; and Camp Pendleton, California. After the war, she attended the University of Minnesota, where she studied public health. She returned to work, but remained on reserve status and was recalled to serve in the Korean War, during which she was a ward supervisor in San Diego and Oakland. She returned to the St. Cloud VA after the Korean War, and retired from there as a nurse and instructor. She was a member of the St. Cloud Hospital Nurses Association and the Veterans Hospital Nurses Association. Terhaar passed away on March 9, 2008, and is buried at the St. Boniface Catholic parish cemetery in Cold Spring, Minnesota.
Hortense Terhaar discussed her experiences as a Navy nurse during World War II and the Korean War. She briefly described her early life growing up in central Minnesota and working as a nurse at the St. Cloud Hospital and VA hospital in St. Cloud. She primarily focused on her World War II experiences as a nurse in Norman, Oklahoma, Seattle, Washington, and Camp Pendleton, California, as well as her Korean War experience in San Diego. Her descriptions of these events included the living conditions of nurses, which she often described as excellent, and the nature of their work. Terhaar particularly talked about how World War II nurses had to learn new jobs that they had not done as civilians, how being recalled from reserves for the Korean War was upsetting and disrupted her life, and the social lives of nurses and male officers. She also described how civilians reacted to women in the service and how civilian treatment of veterans had changed since World War II. Terhaar also described her life in between the wars and after the Korean War, including attending the University of Minnesota and returning to the St. Cloud VA despite losing the position she had held before being recalled from the reserves.
Interview by Nancy Baker
St. Cloud State University, "Terhaar Hortense Oral History" (1989). World War II Veterans. 20.