Born: Sept. 9, 1956
North Capitol Nursing and Rehabilitation
Ursula “Sue” Davis often gives to her family and friends. She gives to strangers and she gives to her state and country. She gave more than eight years of service to the Indiana National Guard Reserve.
When Mrs. Davis joined in 1980, there were few positions open to women. Women comprise a small percentage of those in active duty. Today, women comprise about 10 percent of Guardsmen nationwide. More than 12,000 Hoosiers serve in the Indiana National Guard.
Nursing was an area that welcomed women. Mrs. Davis went to military facilities in Ft. McCullough, Alabama and Ft. Hood, Texas, where she studied nursing. The drills were her least favorite part of training.
“I remember we had to run carrying M-16s,” she said.
It was during one of those runs just three weeks before graduating from the nursing program that she was injured. She recovered, but continues today to have problems from the injury and recently completed treatment and therapy at North Capitol Nursing and Rehabilitation.
To serve out the remainder of her commitment, Mrs. Davis was assigned to the kitchen. “I was the only female in the kitchen,” she recalled.
She loved her job because cooking was something she enjoyed. It brought her peace and happiness.
She started cooking when she was eight years old, she said. As a child, she and her brothers and sisters lived with their grandmother because their mother was often ill from the effects of tuberculosis.
“The only time we could see her was through a window,” she said of her mother.
Many days, she was in the kitchen helping her grandmother prepare meals and learning how to cook.
Growing up was hard, she said. On some Christmas mornings, nothing was under the tree. A house fire took the life of one her brothers. At age 16, she got married, but the relationship was tumultuous and the couple separated.
Having such a hard life taught her how to scuffle and survive, she said.
She joined the National Guard Reserve, she said.
After discharge, Mrs. Davis returned to Indianapolis. She remarried, but that relationship and a third marriage didn’t work. Her solace was in helping her family and friends.
“Once, I had six people staying in my house, trying to help them,” she said.
Tragically, some people she helped returned to her home one day and robbed her at gunpoint. She was beaten and stabbed. While in the hospital recovering, other people she had helped previously broke into her home and took many of her things.
Yet she still helps people. As she talked about her life, a neighbor knocked on the door of her apartment.
“You cooking chili today?” her neighbor asked.
“It’s like that all of the time,” she said. “I really can’t say no to helping people.”