Special Announcement

Shirley Harrow

Shirley Caswell Harrow
September 4, 1932 - February 4, 2024

It is with a heavy heart that I announce the passing of our dear friend and USCADETNURSE.ORG FOUNDATION board member, Shirley Caswell Harrow. Shirley died on February 4, 2024, at the age of 91.

When Shirley was twelve, she saw a poster urging young women to enlist in a "Proud Profession" and "Join the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps." She was too young to join but to become a nurse became her dream. Shirley trained at Mount Sinai Hospital School of Nursing in NYC and became a nurse in 1953. She later married and took a 15-year hiatus to raise four children. She resumed her nursing career in 1970 and earned a BA from Curry College in Milton, MA. She held many nursing positions for almost 30 years and retired in 1999.

In retirement, a providential opportunity arose. Shirley was hired by the landmark Harvard Nurses' Health Study (NHS). For the next twelve years, Shirley was a nurse interviewer for their cognitive function sub-study. It was through this work that she became acquainted with Cadet Nurses who were part of that study. One nurse spoke eloquently about the Corps and their quest for recognition for their role in preventing the collapse of America's health care system during WWII. That encounter led Shirley to another opportunity, this time to connect with the nurses of her childhood dream. Shirley's work with the NHS gave her the opportunity to speak with thousands of former U.S. Cadets throught the country. Her fascination grew, and the USCNC became her passion that continued throughout the rest of her life.

Another opportunity came in 2009, when Susan Scheible published an article about the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps in the Patriot Ledger, a Quincy, MA, newspaper. Former Cadets from the area contacted Shirley and Ms. Scheible; Shirley spoke before the Hanover Visiting Nurses Association and more Cadets came to that presentation. Many opportunities arose to educate other groups, and Elizabeth Beecher, a former Cadet, joined Shirley to tell her story as a graduate of the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps and her resultant nursing career.

I found Shirley through Sue Scheible's article too, while I was searching for information about the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps and a way to honor my mother, who was also a Cadet Nurse. I called Shirley, explained myself and my mother, and ask, "How can I help?" Shirley answered, "We need a website!" and I told Shirley, "I can help with that." What followed for over a decade is a rich collaboration that led also to the establishment of the USCADETNURSE.ORG FOUNDATION with a mission to recognize Cadet Nurses, share their experiences, and preserve their history. Shirley was a founding board member.

Shirley was an advocate for not only remembering Cadet Nurses, but also for celebrating their service to our country during World War II and to the nursing profession. Her legacy lives in my heart and through every person whose life she touched. May Shirley rest in peace.

Elsie Szecsy