Guess Their Story: Edith

  • July 17, 2019

Each and every one of our Five Star residents has an incredible story to tell. Our Guess Their Story series is an excuse to share just a few of them. 

Here's how it works: We give you the chance to guess which unexpected fact about the life of one of our residents is true based on their photo and your gut instinct. We think you just might be surprised by the correct answer! Ready to guess?

Here's a resident of Five Star's Morningside at Williamsburg community: Edith.
 
Which of the following is true of Edith?

a. She worked as a code breaker in World War II
b. She pioneered a new roofing technique
c. Her book won the Newbery Medal for children's literature

Ready to guess? Scroll down to see the answer





Did you guess A? If so, you're correct!

Morningside resident Edith Reynolds White helped break the Japanese code back in WWII, an act of patriotism for which we all owe her a debt of gratitude. She worked with the U.S. Navy as a woman code breaker or "code girl" and was featured in Liza Mundy's 2017 book Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II.
 
Edith was in college when she got word that she had been chosen to be a code breaker. "Back then, the Navy asked colleges to pick the best candidates from test results that might fit the requirement for specialized classified military positions," she recalls.
 
She was told that she would be among very few women in the world to handle special classified information, and if the information ever got out, she and the rest of the women would be executed by firing squad. "It’s something I could never forget," she says. 

While she has received more recognition since Code Girls came out, Edith says that most people still really don't know a lot about her life. While her time as a code breaker was unforgettable, there's a lot more to Edith. As a young woman, she wanted to get involved in theater and acted in Shakespeare plays growing up. When she was younger she enjoyed playing tennis, painting, or drawing, and she was very good with a yo-yo.



As an adult, Edith traveled widely in Europe and was fluent in several languages, including French. She loved painting — something she still does in classes at Morningside — and participated in 20 art shows. For three years, she was a book reviewer for The Virginian-Pilot newspaper and participated in a Virginia poetry society contest, both as a contestant and then as a judge.

Travel and the arts weren't her only passions. She was also active in the field of philanthropy, serving three years as President of Town-N-Gown, a charitable organization that awarded grants to organizations and projects affiliated with Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia.

Edith says someone once told her, "You need wisdom, courage, and strength to get through things in life," and she has found that to be true. Her life at Morningside — in addition to painting classes, poetry socials, and meal times — also includes some newfound passions like Bible studies, weekly musical entertainment, the library book swap, and movie nights, which happen twice a week.

To prospective new Morningside at Williamsburg neighbors, Edith says it's different from being at home, but it's an enjoyable change. "You get to create a whole new family and gain a whole lot more new friends," she says. "It's a good place."

You would probably never guess that this bright and friendly woman was once breaking international codes with our nation's most elite women code breaker team, but that's the thing about our Five Star residents — you just never know what intriguing story is waiting behind twinkling eyes. 

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