When Henrietta Speakman heard her husband, David, had been captured by German forces in Africa during World War II, she decided she needed to do more to help the war effort.
She joined the Women’s Army Corps while she waited for word of her husband.
Mrs. Speakman did clerical work at Fort Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland, a position she held nearly two years.
David Speakman was eventually freed, but was sent to England to recover. It would be about a month until he saw his wife.
“She knew he was well and being cared for long before she actually saw him,” said their daughter, Bobbie Laciak.
The couple were reunited and discharged from the Army at the same time, returning to Pennsylvania to start their life together.
Henrietta V. Speakman, 97, of Greensburg died Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019.
She was born July 15, 1922, in Pittsburgh, to the late Dewey and Hildegard Brandau Carr.
“She was always feisty,” Laciak said. “She lived life on her own terms, loved her family fiercely.”
Mrs. Speakman grew up in the same neighborhood as her future husband. The high school sweethearts were married shortly before Mr. Speakman headed overseas with the Army.
After the war, Mrs. Speakman settled into life as a homemaker, though she occasionally took secretarial jobs to help bolster the family’s income.
“She was a great woman,” said her son, James Speakman. “She was old school, she brought us up to be polite, respectful, and things like that.”
Mrs. Speakman’s family remembers her as strict and strong-willed but caring.
“She was loving, but she took no baloney from us,” Laciak said.
She loved visiting with family and neighbors, and she loved to dance. Laciak remembers learning to dance the Jitterbug with her mom and sister in the family’s living room.
Mrs. Speakman was always proud of her military service.
Last year, she met a researcher from the West Overton Village and Museum, who interviewed her about her experience during the war. Excerpts from that interview are featured in the museum’s World War II Homefront exhibit.
Mrs. Speakman was preceded in death by her husband, David M. Speakman, and daughter-in-law, Irene Speakman. She is survived by a son, James D. Speakman, of Ossian, Ind.; two daughters, Betsy (Doug) Halliday, of Pittsburgh, and Bobbie (Sam) Laciak, of Greensburg; four grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; two step-grandchildren; and three step-great-grandchildren.
Family and friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Barnhart Funeral Home, 505 E. Pittsburgh St., Greensburg. A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at First Evangelical Lutheran Church, 241 S. Main St., Greensburg.
Interment will follow in St. Peter’s Lutheran Cemetery, Pittsburgh.
Memorial donations may be made to the It’s About the Warrior Foundation.