Otey VanDenburah Gilmar

Pandemic Influenza Storybook

Storyteller: Cary G. Smith

Location: Virginia

Illustration of a cloth nurse hat

My mother, Otey VanDenburah Gilmar, was the daughter of Cary Perkins and Frank Augustus VanDenburah. She was born and raised in Pittsylvania County, Virginia. Her father was a tobacco farmer and later the family moved to Richmond, Virginia.

Otey had a cousin, Grace Fitzgerald, daughter of Hattie VanDenburah and Thomas Jones Fitzgerald of Chatham, Virginia. The two girls were very close and both wanted to be nurses, but their families strongly objected. Therefore, they saved their money until they had enough to enroll themselves in the nursing school at the University of Pennsylvania. The 1918 pandemic flu came while they were in training. Grace got the flu and died. Otey went on to graduate but she never got over Grace′s death.