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BURNETTE "BUR" CARTER

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BURNETTE "BUR" CARTER

Burnette "Bur" Ileen Stensrud Carter, 98, died Tuesday, May 27, 2014 at Pleasant Akers Assisted Living in Akeley, surrounded by her family.

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Burnette was born July 2, 1915, to Isaac and Bertha (Bergeson) Stensrud. "Bur" grew up on the family farm, graduated from Freeborn school and Fairview Hospital School of Nursing.

Her first jobs were in York, Neb. and Fort Dodge, Iowa. Deciding to spread her wings, she left for Chicago where her sister Meda and family lived and was there on Pearl Harbor Sunday. She and a nursing friend joined the armed forces and were inducted into the Army Air Corps as 2nd Lieutenants on June 15, 1942.

Orders were to the Medical Air Evacuation School at Bowman Field, Louisville, Ky. for training. In January 1943, Bur's group, the 801st Medical Air Evacuation Squadron, the first to leave the states, included 25 nurses, 50 corpsmen and three flight surgeons.

They sailed from California, arriving at New Caledonia Feb. 14, 1943, and served at a small base hospital operated by a unit from the University of Minnesota. The mission was to evacuate patients from the front by planes which were not armed but designated by a Red Cross symbol, a target for any enemy aircraft in the area.

Burnette spent 15 months of service from New Caledonia to Guadalcanal, New George, Bougainville and other Pacific points, one of a mere handful of nurses saving lives in the entire Southwest Pacific area. Each nurse earned the Air Medal and Four Oak Leaf Cluster for her service.

Returning stateside, they were required to return to Bowman Field for further training, after which their job was to meet the convoys bringing patients back to the states on both coasts and fly with them to hospitals closer to their homes.

After the war, Bur returned to Chicago to begin her career as a VAH nurse, first at Hines and later at Minneapolis VAH.

Serving as a flight nurse during World War II was frightening and traumatic, but it also opened a world larger than what she had known growing up on a farm in southern Minnesota. Her interest in learning about other countries and their cultures helped her decide to work closer to her family so she could use vacation time to travel.

While at the Minneapolis VA, Bur returned to school, enrolling at the University of Minnesota where she received two year's credit for her nursing diploma and graduated in 1953 with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. At the VA she rotated through medical, surgical, instructor in nursing arts and ended her career in psychiatric service before retiring in 1976. She was 60 years old with 30 years of government service.

Retirement allowed for more travel. Marriage to Harold (Brick) Carter took her to Houston, Texas and 20+ years of avoiding Minnesota winters. While in Texas, she was involved in many ways at Memorial Drive Lutheran Church, especially Altar Guild, Better Side of 50, and Memorial Assisted Ministries. She also taught English as a Second Language, exercised faithfully at the Y and kept close to their many friends. At age 91, widowed, Burnette decided it was time to return to Minnesota and family.

She is survived by daughter, Dorothy (Tony) Platz of Park Rapids; granddaughters, Krista Platz and Sarah (Steve) Lindow, and great-grandsons, Thomas and Henry Lindow, all of Nevis; and nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her parents; sisters, Mildred, Almeda, Lila; twin sister, Beatrice; spouse, Harold Carter; and several nieces and nephews.

She will be remembered as a wonderful, caring woman, energetic about making a change in her own way, an avid reader, and an inspiration to her family and friends.

Memorial service: 1 p.m. Tuesday, June 10 at Calvary Lutheran Church, Park Rapids. Pastor Sara Jensen will officiate.

Visitation: one hour prior to the service.

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