WWII veteran and nurse Marcella LeBeau passes away at 102

RAPID CITY, S.D. — The Lakota Nation, Rapid City and South Dakota, and the United States have lost a hero.

World War II veteran and nurse Marcella LeBeau has passed away at age 102.

She was born in October of 1919 in Promise, Dewey County and she was the oldest of five children.

LeBeau earned her degree in nursing from Saint Mary’s Hospital in Pierre and began working as an RN in Michigan, but then enlisted in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps during World War II.

She served in France, England and Belgium, as well as at Omaha Beach during D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge.

She left the Army as a first lieutenant, returning home to South Dakota, specifically Rapid City, where she faced racial segregation.

LeBeau worked for the Indian Health Service and became Director of Nursing at IHS in Eagle Butte where she lived.

She was later elected to the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Council leading anti-smoking efforts. The reservation became the first smoke-free community in South Dakota.

LeBeau was awarded the Legion of Honour for her service during World War II and was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame.

Governor Kristi Noem issued a statement after learning of the passing of Marcella LeBeau saying, “As a proud member of the Lakota, Wigmunke Waste Win (Pretty Rainbow Woman) served both her community and her country as a member of the Greatest Generation. Her service as a nurse during World War II has been chronicled by historians. Her dedication as a nurse in the Indian Health Services for more than 30 years has left a legacy that will live in our hearts and minds forever. In addition to keeping her people healthy, she protected their heritage by helping repatriate important cultural items belonging to the tribes. Through it all, it was her joyful spirit that connected her with many in her community. Bryon and I send our condolences to the entire Lakota nation as they remember Marcella. Her kind, servant’s heart will be missed.”

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News