Cover photo for Gwendolyn N. Stiles's Obituary
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1923 Gwendolyn 2022

Gwendolyn N. Stiles

July 31, 1923 — December 8, 2022

Born to George Nelson and Anna (Korthals) Nelson in Bismarck, ND, July 31, 1923, died December 8, 2022 at the Claremore Veteran's Center, Claremore, OK.

Gwendolyn Georgian Nelson grew up on a farm in North Dakota but as a teenager, she answered an ad in the paper for a family advertising space in their car going to Oregon to defray their costs. Gwen answered the ad and began her trek west, eventually settling in Washington State where she found employment. As WW II approached, Gwen found herself working at the Boeing Plant, and later enlisted in the US Navy (WAVES - Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service). Although on active duty, these women were considered reservists filling in for the men who had been sent to war. Gwen became a Communications Specialist Third Class and was honored to be the switchboard operator who connected the 3-way call between Winston Churchill, General McArthur, and President Roosevelt that ended WWII. She was privileged to hear the conversation as had she disconnected, the call would have been lost, but she remained a silent partner because she said "she was just doing her job".

While in the Navy, Gwen met and later married Richard McCurdy Stiles from Green Bay, WI. They eventually settled in Wausau, WI, where "Dick" as he was called was the VP for the Morley-Murphy Company. Dick and Gwen had three daughters, Sherry, Linda and Richie. Gwen enjoyed the role of homemaker and wife, and their life in their home on Eleventh St in Wausau. Gwen was an avid canner of pickles, green beans, mincemeat, brandied peaches among other things. She and Dick enjoyed traveling and spending summers at the cottage in Minocqua and later Lac du Flambeau. Upon Richard's passing in 1980, Gwen moved to Oklahoma to be nearer Sherry and Linda who resided there, and in her later years after moving back to Wisconsin, she returned to the better climate in Oklahoma, avoiding harsh winters.

Gwen was fortunate to have lived at home with Linda until age 98, but in March, 2022 was accepted by the Claremore Veteran's Center where she was treated with respect, care and love. The family is grateful to the VA Center for making Gwen's last nine months filled with joy, activity, and camaraderie. Gwen died peacefully in her sleep at the age of 99 and was removed from the VA Center on an American-flag draped gurney with staff and fellow residents lining the halls to say their farewells as "Taps" was played for her "final salute".

Preceded in death by her parents, George and Anna Nelson, husband, Richard Stiles, sisters Gladys and Gertrude and brother Gerald. She is survived by her daughters Sherry Stiles-Wiley (Tom Garrett), Linda Stiles-Meyer and Richie Stiles-Riddle (Robert Riddle), grandchildren Brett (Lindsey) Denney, Brittany Wiley, Christian Riddle and Madison Riddle, great-grandchildren Preston, Powell, Parker and Paxton Denney and Peyton Bray (Brittany Wiley). Gwen's passing has left a hole in the hearts of all who knew her.

As Salman Rushdie writes in Midnight's Children, "I am the sum total of everything that went before me, of all I have been seen done, of everything done-to-me. I am everyone everything whose being-in-the-world affected was affected by mine. I am anything that happens after I'm gone which would not have happened if I had not come."

A memorial service will be held at 9:30 am at the Claremore VA Center on December 28, 2022 and memories can be left on the Schaudt Funeral Service (Tulsa, OK) site.

Another memorial service will be held April 21, 2023 for interment in Wausau, Wisconsin. 

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Gwendolyn N. Stiles, please visit our flower store.


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