Nadine Beatrice Kinchen Benoit, 87, of Kentwood, La., a former Dunklin County native, died Thursday, July 27, 2006, in a Hammond, Louisiana hospital after a long illness.
Services were Saturday, July 29, at McKneely Funeral Home in Kentwood with the Rev. Dr. Danny R. Smith officiating. Burial was in the Tangipahoa Cemetery.
She was born Nov. 4, 1918, in Hollywood, Mo., the oldest child of Sidney Odell Kinchen and Hattie May Buck Kinchen. After graduation from Arbyrd High School, she entered St. Bernards Hospital School of Nursing in Jonesboro, Ark., graduating in 1940. While working at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, Mo., she joined the Public Health Service in 1942 because of World War II. In 1944, the Public Health Service ordered her to board a train without telling her where her next assignment would be. She arrived in Santa Fe, N.M., where she was then told she would be working a U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service internment camp for 5,000 men of Japanese descent.
She and four other nurses were the only women at the camp infirmary. Even with the shortages and difficulties of the war, she and the other medical staff created supplies and makeshift medical and surgical equipment to care for patients. She also made several lifelong friends among the internees and corresponded with them for many decades after the war. Mrs. Benoit is the last surviving nurse from the camp. In 1999, her daughter, Patricia Benoit and son-in-law, Weldon Cannon, of Temple, Texas, were on the steering committee to erect a historical marker overlooking the internment camp, honoring the internees and staff who worked there.
While in New Mexico, she met Thomas Henry Benoit, a New Orleans, La. native, who was among the first Army engineers to build the laboratories and infrastructure at Los Alamos, N.M., where the first nuclear weapons in World War II were developed. Despite the tight government secrecy of both of their positions, they married Jan. 4, 1945, in Santa Fe.
The couple stayed in Santa Fe until 1946, when the internment camp closed and the Los Alamos war effort was declining. They moved to Algiers in Suburban New Orleans, where they lived until 2004. Then they moved to Kentwood to live with their son.
Mrs. Benoit remained a devoted mother and grandmother, active in the Church of Christ. In their retirement years, they traveled extensively throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada.
She is survived by her son, Terry Kinchen Benoit and wife, Nancy Ault Benoit; her daughter, Patricia Kay Benoit and husband, Weldon G. Cannon, of Temple, Texas; granddaughter, Bevin Tabor and husband, Tommy; grandson, Rusty Benoit and wife, Jana; three great-grandchildren, Bailee and Skylar Tabor and Reece Benoit, all of Kentwood; her brother, Kenneth D. Kinchen, of Kennett; two nephews, Steve Kinchen, of Hornersville, Mo., and Scott Kinchen, of Dexter, Mo. and one niece, Sarah Kinchen Burdin, of Winterhaven, Fla.
Preceded her in death were her parents; her brother, Lonnie L. Kinchen; sister, Helen Kinchen Smithmier and daughter-in-law, Catherine Guarino Benoit.
Relatives, friends, members of the Indivisible Friends Masonic Lodge No. 404 and DeGaulle Avenue Church of Christ are invited to attend the service.
Memorials may be made in her name to the Nadine Benoit Nursing Scholarship, Temple College foundation, 19 N. Main St., Temple, Texas 76501; The International Gideon Bible Society or Spring Creek Baptist Church Building Fund, 72937 Highway 1061, Kentwood, La. 70444.