Rita Therese Gregory
April 24, 1931 – January 22, 2014
LTC (R) Rita Therese Gregory was the third child born to Marian Mark and Marion Gregory on April 24, 1931 in Chicago, IL. Rita jokingly called herself a “depression baby” as her parents had nothing else to do. Rita was selected to the National Honor Society as a High School Junior and graduated from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL where she majored in Physical Education. She received a direct commission as a 2nd Lieutenant (2LT) in the United States Army’s Women’s Medical Specialist Corps in 1953 (without her parents’ knowledge).
She began and ended her military career as a Physical Therapist in the great state of TX. Her first duty assignment was to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, as a Student Officer for Physical Therapy (PT) Academic Training shortly after the infamous Waco tornado on May 11, 1953. Another Student assignment carried her to Letterman Army Hospital in San Francisco, CA for the PT Clinical Affiliation Course, where she and Dr. Minnie Joycelyn Elders, former U.S. Surgeon General, were classmates. LT Gregory was then assigned to the Army and Navy Hospital in Hot Springs, AR during the height of polio season in 1954. The hospital later closed its services to the military and is now a Rehabilitation Center. 1LT Gregory worked at the U.S. Army Hospital at Fort Carson, CO for the next two years, was promoted to Captain while assigned to Valley Forge General Hospital, Phoenixville, PA and appointed Chief of the PT Section at the 34th General Hospital in LaChapelle, St. Mesmin, France. A highlight of this assignment was for CPT Gregory to see Ms. Ginger Rogers when she visited Ms. Constance Campbell Bennett, an American actress, who was a patient at 34th General. Completion of this tour carried CPT Gregory to Denver’s Fitzsimmons General Hospital. CPT Gregory was promoted to MAJ while assigned to Walson General Hospital in Fort Dix, NJ.
MAJ Gregory returned to TX (Fort Hood) on June 6, 1964 to establish a Clinical Affiliation for Physical Therapy students from Fort Sam Houston. She was appointed as the Chief of the Physical Therapy Department at Carl R. Darnall Army Community Hospital, (now Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center), promoted to LTC in September 1968 and remained in that position until her retirement on January 24, 1973. Rita refused to be recognized for her work with medals and ribbons. She said “God knew what she did, she knew that she did, those she served knew what she did and that was enough.” She was awarded the National Defense Service Medal with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster and the Meritorious Service Medal upon her retirement.
At Fort Hood, as with other duty stations, Rita made many lifelong friends. She later bought a home just off the 8th hole of the Oakridge Terrace Golf Course in Harker Heights. When her health began to fail and she was no longer able to walk her dog, play golf or bowl, her favorite pastime was watching sports on television and playing Bingo with her friends. Although she never married or had children, she always had a special dog as a lifetime companion. These included: Fluffy, Susie, Buffy, Missy and Schatzie. LTC Gregory was a life member of the American Physical Therapy Association, a member of the Retired Army Medical Specialist Corps, the Retired Physical Therapy Corps and the American Association for Retired Persons.
Rita’s parents, Marian and Marion Gregory, siblings Bernice McNaughton and John Gregory, and four dogs preceded her in death. She also lost 9 of her Bingo, Bowling and/or Golfing friends in 2013. She is survived by nephews, John (Julie) Gregory of Omaha, NC, Dr. James (Celia) Gregory, MD, of Deluth, MN, Robert (Pat) MacNaughton of Anchorage, AK, and nieces, Cathleen (Burnie) Houle of Omaha, Carolina (Joseph) Nurik of Vashon Island, WA, Rita Mae MacNaughton and Anne (Joseph) Thompson, both of Orlando, FL, a cousin Mark Krupa (Dong Suk) of Georgetown, TX, her dog (Schatzie) and a host of other relatives and friends..
The Gregory family will receive guests for a time of visitation on Friday, February 7, 2014 from 4-8 PM at Crawford-Bowers Funeral Home of Killeen. Funeral services will be held on Saturday, February 8, 2014 at 3:00 PM in the chapel of Crawford-Bowers Funeral Home of Killeen. Burial will be at a later date in the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery.
- Visitation Friday, February 7, 2014
- Funeral Service Saturday, February 8, 2014
Rita Therese Gregory
COL Virginia Metcalf, US Army Ret.
April 12, 2014
I just learned of Rita's passing and would like to say what a wonderful friend, colleague, and Army officer she was. I first met Rita in 1953 when we were both 2/Lts at the Medical Field Service School Physical Therapy Course in San Antonio, Tx. She was in Class #8 and I was in Class #9. Her class had the responsibility of teaching our class how to set up the Army uniform, how to put on our "nurses" caps, how to polish our shoes, how to salute, and when to salute. Rita was extremely particular about detail and checked us over daily before we stood in formation in the Quadrangle. Fond memories of a dedicated officer. We shall all miss her. Thank you for your service to our country, Rita.
COL Virginia Metcalf, U.S Army Retired
March 26, 2014
The Retired Army Medical Specialist Corps Association would like to add our condolences to the family. LTC Gregory won't be forgotten by her Specialist Corps friends and we're forever in debted to her for her loyal service to the Army and to our Nation.
Teresa Dillon, RAMSCA Secretary
February 3, 2014
It was a distinct honor, and privilege of having you in my life. You will be sorely missed. God bless you.