Elva Lorraine Row was born on December 8, 1918 at the home of her parents, Herman Ellsworth Row and Ida Mae Schoffstall Row, 424 West Market Street, Williamstown, PA. Elva was the second child born to her parents, but became the eldest child upon the death of her brother, Weldon, when he was 2.
She graduated Valedictorian of the Williamstown High School senior class of 1936, and was a member of the National Honor Society. She played the trumpet in the high school marching band. While she was in high school she worked as a soda jerk in her Uncle George's drug store, and because of the economics of the Great Depression, she took in ironing during the summer for a neighbor and turned the money over to her parents to help the household budget.
Upon graduating from high school, Elva was offered a full academic scholarship to a college in PA. Because of the Great Depression, she was unable to accept it because her parents could not afford her transportation to and from the college. So, following her high school graduation she worked as a nanny in Philadelphia, PA. As a nanny, she was responsible for the children twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. In addition to caretaking, she was also responsible for cooking for them. She had one day off per month.
Upon returning to Williamstown she was encouraged by her mother to pursue an education. Elva worked for two years in a hosiery mill in Williamstown before saving enough money to attend nursing school at Geisinger Memorial Hospital in Danville, PA. It was there that she met her husband, William Coleman Pratt, who was a surgical resident. Although William wanted to get married immediately, Elva insisted on graduating from nursing school first. At that time, nursing students could not be married. She graduated second in her nursing school class on February 3, 1941, passed the State Boards in Pennsylvania, worked briefly at Geisinger Memorial Hospital as a private duty nurse and rode the train to Des Moines, Iowa, where her husband-to-be was stationed in the Army at Fort Des Moines. They were married at the Congregational Church in Des Moines on Valentine's Day, 1941. They were married 63 years prior to the death of her husband.
Prior to her husband's deployment during WWII, she accompanied him to various Army bases that he was assigned to. Among those were Fort Des Moines, IA; Fort Leonardwood, MO; Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, TX and Carlile Barracks, Carlile, PA.
Elva had a long career as a nurse. She worked as a staff nurse at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis prior to her husband's deployment. When they moved to Tulsa, she worked at St. John Hospital on the surgical dressing cart. Later she went to work for Tulsa Public Schools, and worked at various elementary, junior and high schools. During the inception of Project Head Start, she was the school nurse for the South Haven district of Tulsa, where she made home visits and secured medical services for children. This was at a time when the residents of South Haven had no running water, but had water tanks filled in their yards once a week by a truck. While she was working and raising a family, Elva attended summer school and night school at the University of Tulsa. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree and was a member of the Honorary Scholastic Society for Women in Night School, the same year that Nancy and John graduated from college in 1970. She eventually took a sabbatical from her school nursing position with Tulsa Public Schools, and graduated from the first class of the University of Colorado's School Nurse Practitioner Program in Denver. She returned to TPS and was the first School Nurse Practitioner in the district. After 18 years with TPS she retired.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Herman Ellsworth Row and Ida Mae Schoffstall Row, husband, Dr. William Coleman Pratt, Sr., son, James Wood Pratt, sister, Bernice Regina Cowan, and brothers Weldon Ellsworth Row and Elwood Herman Row.
She is survived by six children: Lorraine Pratt of Houston, William Coleman Pratt Jr. of Tulsa, John Pratt and wife Sharon of Denver, Nancy Slater and husband John of Albuquerque, Betsy Long and husband Lyn of Tulsa, and son Dr. Thomas Pratt and wife Marsha of Edmond. Grandchildren include, William Shockley of LA, Bart Shockley and wife Suzanne of Houston, Bryce Shockley of Tulsa, Kerri Snyder and husband William of Houston, William C. Pratt, III of Broken Arrow, Matthew Slater of Lake Havasu, AZ, Nicole Stensrud and husband Matthew of Salem, Oregon, Sarah Stevenson and husband Robert of London, Eric and wife Marilina of Norman, and Laura Pratt of Salt Lake City. Great grandchildren include: Cooper, Hayden, Carson and Ashton Shockley, Jackson Stensrud, and Alexandra and William Snyder.
Elva's hobbies included knitting, crocheting, embroidery, antiquing, and playing bridge. Her most treasured hobby however, was the nurturing and companionship of her miniature schnauzer.
Elva was a beautiful woman who worked tirelessly not only for her own children and grandchildren, but for those she served. She was full of energy, compassion, love, and provided a helping hand for those who needed one.
Her family and friends celebrate her life, and will forever be grateful for her love and guidance and example of how to live.
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