Former local WAVES officer inspires biography

The life of longtime Hixson resident Frances Wilson has been ruled by a very important belief.

“Almost all I think of a good life is going to be centered on your family — the importance of family before marriage and after,” she said from her home in the River Hills subdivision, adding, “Live life. I feel that very deeply.”

The 91-year-old took her own advice more than 70 years ago when she joined the Navy as part of the WAVES — Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service — during the 1940s. She spent two years traveling along the East Coast to places like New York and Boston right after she graduated college.

“We were in the midst of World War II and there was no reason for me not to,” Wilson said. “I was 22 at the time. I learned what it means to be a part of the Navy; what you do and what you don’t do as a Naval officer. In addition to my college degree, I traveled and got many opportunities to learn. I thought it was a wonderful experience.”

But even through her exciting experiences with the WAVES, family stayed near and dear. Her memories of growing up on a farm in Lebanon, Tenn., with her mother and “charming” father are sweet and full of light.

Wilson’s husband of 67 years was also in the Navy while she was in the WAVES, and they married as soon as they both were discharged in 1946.

“We have had a wonderful life together,” she said, smiling. “We’ve been a pair, not two individuals.”

All four of the Wilson children have graduated college and the family remains close, she added proudly.

Formerly local author Lee Grimes met Wilson through a Sunday school class and was immediately drawn to her sweet story. She put Wilson’s story down on paper by writing her biography, “Lady WAVE.”

“I just loved [Wilson],” said Grimes, who now lives in Madison, Ala. “I understood she’d been in the WAVES and I was just curious; I have a fascination that never stops about World War II. Little did I know her story would be so lovely.”

Grimes, born in the 1940s, has written other biographies of people who lived during the WWII era.

“It just kept going through my mind that more people need to know of that kind of life and dedication she gave to her family,” Grimes said, as to why she decided to write about Wilson’s life. “It was just a wonderful family example that I wish we could all have more of.”

“I’m no star, let’s put it that way,” said Wilson. “I have had an interesting life and I’m blessed by having a wonderful family.”

To buy “Lady WAVE,” contact Grimes at 423-994-0005 or email her at leegrimes44@gmail.com. The book costs $23.