Evelyn Schiess, BS ’46, graduated from Beverly Hills High in June 1941, just months before the United States entered World War II. She completed two years of pre-nursing studies at UCLA before heading north in 1943 to UCSF.
Although she would never see action, the war enabled her to get her first nursing degree through the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps. The federal training program attracted much-needed nursing talent for the war and, from 1943 to 1948, graduated nearly 125,000 nurses. It covered all tuition and fees and provided books, uniforms, and a monthly stipend of $15. Following her training, Evelyn took her first nursing job at Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles.
“Evelyn was very bright and technically skilled,” says her cousin Christine Sullivan. “She could easily have become a doctor if she had wished and her finances allowed.” Sullivan’s father and Evelyn were about the same age, children of an extended immigrant Austro-Hungarian family.
“It was only after she died that I began to appreciate what a full life she had,” Sullivan says. “UCSF must have been liberating for her, the only child of doting parents now living away from home in a dorm with other young women.”
Evelyn continued her education, pursuing a master’s degree in public health and a certificate as a school nurse specialist. Her long career included work as an operating room and office nurse, student nurse instructor, and school nurse. She retired from the Los Angeles Unified School District and continued nursing even then, caring for her parents into their later years.
“Evelyn was an adventurer,” Sullivan says. “She loved the outdoors and was an accomplished downhill skier.” She once spent four months on a solo Volkswagen tour of Europe. In 1981 she married Ernest Schiess, a neighbor who had lost his wife to cancer. A former award-winning Swiss pastry chef, Schiess introduced Evelyn to Switzerland—where her ski club happened to have a sister organization.
In her retirement, she traveled with her husband throughout the U.S. and proudly showed her championship Elkhound dogs. At the time of her death, she was still expanding her horizons by taking computerized sewing classes and German lessons and exploring her family genealogy. As a testament to her UCSF education, she left a bequest to support aspiring nurses at the UCSF School of Nursing.
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