Hamilton County

Avis L. Dagit





Lt. Avis Dagit of Williams, Ia., is one of the many brave young American women who are serving as nurses in combat zones, caring for the sick and wounded and living many of the hardships of the doughboys.

The lieutenant in 1941 was on duty in the maternity department of Iowa Methodist hospital.

In an article by Gordon Gammick, Register and Tribune staff writer in the Mediterranean theater, she was quoted as saying, “We don’t have to put up with anything like the boys in the front lines do. If the boys can take it, I guess we can.”

Mr. Gammack related in his article that a group of nurses were only a few days behind the armed invasion troops, and lived through the hell of desperate German air raids to take up their hard work of mercy just behind the front lines. They had a harrowing trip in the invasion beaches. They started out on an LCI (landing craft, infantry). Facilities were at a minimum and the seas were treacherous.

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, IA, Feb. 5, 1944

BIO: Avis L.  Dagit was born Mar. 17, 1919 at Churdan, Iowa to Raymond and Alma Arnold Dagit. The family moved to Williams, Iowa.

Avis graduated from Iowa Methodist Hospital in Des Moines Iowa and worked as a nurse there. In 1942 she joined the Women’s Army Corps and was stationed at Camp Chaffe, Arkansas for one year. She was then sent to the 56th Evacuation Hospital at Fort Sam Houston, Texas and was sent overseas as part of that unit, serving in North Africa and Italy. She and 25 other nurses were the first to land on the Anzio beachhead where they were constantly bombarded by German shells and bombs. Their hospital on the beach was soon dubbed “Hell’s Half Acre”.

Following World War II Avis took a year’s special training in Wesleyan Memorial Hospital in Chicago and returned to Iowa to work in the office of Drs. William and Robert Johnson in Iowa Falls. She was also an R.N. in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Avis married Cal Schorer from Wisconsin.

After returning to Iowa, Avis was the anesthetist at the Hamilton County Hospital for some years, including the 1960s.

She is the Author of “A Half Acre of Hell:A Combat Nurse in WWII”.

Avis now resides in a Minneapolis, Minnesota suburb. 

Sources: Articles from the Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, IA
“A Half Acre of Hell” - Avis D. Schorer

Her Obituary:

Avis Schorer, 97, Lilydale, MN

On August 31, 2016, Mrs. Avis D. Schorer died. A resident of Lilydale, Minnesota, she had been in declining health for several months. She was 97. As she wanted, she died in her home, quietly, without pain with all her faculties and with dignity. Her daughter Anna was with her at the end.

Mrs. Schorer was the fourth of eleven children. She was preceded in death by her brothers William, Arnold, Lowell and Dorian and by her sisters Edith and Alice. She is survived by her daughter Dr. Anna E. Schorer, son-in-law Dr. Gary R. Kravitz, their three children Emily, Alexander and Lydia, Emily’s child Luna Zoe Jacobs and Luna’s father Stephan Jacobs; by her son Joseph U. Schorer, daughter-in-law Mildred L. Calhoun and their two sons Maxwell and Nicholas; and by her son John P. Schorer. She is also survived by her sisters Leona Norton, Phyllis Olson, Elsie Miller (and Elsie’s husband Russell R. Miller) and Mary Lapp, by her sisters-in-law Eileen Dagit (widow of Dorian) and Colleen Dagit (widow of Lowell) and by many nephews, nieces and other extended family members.

Mrs. Schorer was born in Churdan, Iowa on March 17, 1919 to Raymond and Alma (Arnold) Dagit. Mrs. Schorer was raised on a farm. Shortly after her graduation from nurse’s training at Iowa Methodist Hospital in Des Moines, Iowa, she enlisted as a nurse in the U.S. Army and served on the front lines from 1942 to 1945 in the North African and Italian theaters with the 56th Evacuation Hospital of the 5th Army. More about her experiences in the Army can be found in her book “A Half Acre of Hell: A Combat Nurse in WWII” (Glade Press 2000). Following her discharge from the Army, she received anesthesia training in Chicago at what is now called the Wesley-Passavant School of Nursing and became a certified registered nurse anesthetist. She was married in 1950 to Calvin E. Schorer. In 1958, after a divorce, she and her three children moved from Detroit to Webster City, Iowa, where she lived until 1968. In 1968 she moved to the Twin Cities, where she resumed her career by becoming a nurse anesthetist at Lutheran Deaconess Hospital in Minneapolis until her retirement in 1982. She remained a citizen of the Twin Cities for the rest of her life.

Mrs. Schorer was raised in the Protestant faith and, starting in the 1950s, was a member of the Lutheran church, first at Trinity Lutheran Church in Webster City and then, for many years, at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Bloomington, Minnesota. Through the church and other community groups, especially after her retirement, she dedicated a significant part of her time to community service, such as staffing the traveler’s aid desk at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, volunteering at the Penn Lake Library in Bloomington, working for Meals on Wheels and baking and knitting for her church circles.

The publication of her book opened new worlds for Mrs. Schorer. She was the subject of a Twin Cities National Public Radio broadcast and of front page stories in the Minneapolis and St. Paul papers. A Twin Cities theatrical group turned her book into a play. She was a speaker at local and national conferences. On the grounds of the Minnesota State Capitol is a monument in her honor. Her book became a featured publication at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial in Washington, D.C.

During her career and even more so after her retirement, she delighted in travel, both abroad and in the United States. She also reveled in cutting-edge technology; the newest computers, an internet ready television, her own Facebook page, Skype calls and an iPhone that she used to check the latest news and to FaceTime with her family. She was a life-long Democrat who kept abreast of developments in national and local politics up until the end. She golfed as long as she was physically able. Her greatest treasure was her family.

Here is a haiku to celebrate Mrs. Schorer’s life:

Iowa Farm girl
Loving mother
Author of
A great

Mrs. Schorer’s remains were cremated in a private ceremony. A funeral service with military honors will be held on October 14, 2016 at Ft. Snelling Memorial Chapel in Minneapolis, Minnesota, starting at noon. A reception will follow immediately after the service. In lieu of flowers, Mrs. Schorer asked that donations be made to the American Heart Association.

Source: Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, IA - Sept. 20, 2016