Nevada’s oldest WWII vet special guest to Gov. Brian Sandoval
Phyllis Anker Bendure, 97, was more than just a sergeant during World War II.
Nevada’s oldest living WWII veteran also was a teacher in the military and in northern Nevada schools. She was a trusted aide and delivered top-secret information, and had tea with presidents’ wives.
She’s a veteran many could look up to, as she was a part of the Women Army Corps in the 1940s.
Her journey has led her to be Governor Brian Sandoval’s special guest at his State of the Speech on Tuesday.
“I think it’s wonderful,” she said. “I’ve never been so honored before.”
Her son, Fred Bendure — a baseball coach at Virginia City High School — will be with her in attendance.
“It was a whack back then in the World War II days,” he said. “To honor any veteran is a great thing to do, especially if it’s from the state governor. They’ve done so much for our country.”
When asked about her past, Bendure can’t help but smile and reminisce. Before she enlisted in the military, she pursued a career in education. After she graduated Pershing High School in 1937, she attended college at the University of Nevada, Reno and tutored part-time for three years. She even tutored Marion Motley, a member of the NFL Hall of Fame.
“We became such good friends,” she said. “He was so friendly.”
When she graduated in 1941, she was hired by Eureka County School District and taught business. She also taught business at Yerington High School the following year.
But by 1943, most of Bendure’s friends enlisted in service, specifically in WAC. In June of that year, Bendure signed up and was stationed in Des Moines, Iowa. Shortly thereafter, she earned her sergeant ranking.
Bendure didn’t give up on teaching, though. She taught touch system typing to women at the Army Administrative School in Des Moines.
“We worked the socks off of those ladies,” she said. “It would relieve men from working in the office to go out on the field.”
Bendure was then assigned to be one of WACs for Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall at the Pentagon. She greeted officers with appointments with General Marshall to deliver top-secret information — or as Bendure puts it, “for your eyes only.”
She also accompanied Marshall to the Roosevelt-Churchill conference in Quebec, Canada in 1944. Bendure even enjoyed tea with Mrs. Roosevelt and Mrs. Churchill at the conference.
As Bendure greeted officers at the door, she began her new hobby: collecting patches.
“They would give me their extra patches,” she said. “I sent all of the originals to my mother, who crocheted them onto a quilt for me. They’re from all over the world.”
Bendure still owns the quilt to this day and is planning to donate it to a history museum.
When Bendure was discharged as staff sergeant in Feb. 1946, romance blossomed when she moved back to her home in Lovelock. She met her husband, Ted Bendure, who was also discharged as a tanker in the military. He also called Lovelock his home.
By May of that year, she and Ted married and had three children: Ted, Fred and Sue. All children are graduates of UNR and live in Carson City, Lovelock and Sparks.
Bendure returned to her education career and taught business subjects at Carson High School. She retired in 1983 at the age of 64, after teaching in Nevada for 40 years.
After Gov. Sandoval presents her honor, Bendure will receive more praise at her home at the Sierra Place Senior Living to receive a pin and certificate from Mayor Bob Crowell, along with nine other veterans Wednesday, Jan. 25.
“I’ve done a lot of things in my lifetime – and I’ve lived this long,” she said.
Bendure has more to look forward to in the coming months. On March 7, she will celebrate 98 years “young.”