Retired Col. Lila J. Bosch, former chief nurse anesthetist at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and a founding member of the Retired Nurse Corps Association, made many lifelong friends throughout her career.
“She was very fun-loving, active and had many friends,” her friend Martha Cronin said.
Bosch died from lung cancer three months after being diagnosed with the disease. She was 84.
Bosch had beaten cancer once before, surviving a benign tumor in her brain.
Growing up on a farm in South Dakota, Bosch attended a one-room school. Her career as a nurse anesthetist began after she graduated from Presentation College's School of Nursing in South Dakota. Following stints in California and New York, she joined the Army Nurse Corps in 1955, led there by her love of history.
“Lila was very interested in the accomplishments nurses made during World War II,” Cronin said.
Having trained as a nurse anesthetist at Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center, her assignments took her to Germany, the African nation of Eritrea and even South America for earthquake relief.
While stationed in Eritrea, Bosch earned her race car license.
“They had a little medical unit there that takes care of embassy people and so forth,” her friend Jessie Brewer recalled. “They weren't always as busy there, so they had a desert ... and learned to race. It was exciting, and she enjoyed it thoroughly.”
During the Vietnam War, Bosch cared for many patients who were transported to Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Her skill earned her the rank of chief nurse anesthetist at the center.
“She referred to herself as the gas passer,” her friends recalled laughing, adding that she aided many surgeries as an anesthetist.
She later became assistant to the surgeon general, a position in which she met Brewer and Cronin, close friends since the late 1970s, they recalled. After she retired in 1979, her friends said she came to San Antonio for the same reason many retirees did.
“It's beautiful,” Brewer said. “There were a lot of medical personnel who retired here.”
Bosch did not sit still, called by her colleague Brig. Gen. Lillian Dunlap to volunteer alongside fellow nurses to build houses with Habitat for Humanity.
She was also a charter member of the Retired Army Nurse Corps Association, now the Army Nursing Corps Association.
In her free time, she enjoyed playing bridge, reading about history and playing with her dog at the Army Retirement Center.
“She was a wonderful person, a great student of history, and she was a good friend to many people,” Cronin said.
Survivors include her sister, Carol Hladky; numerous nieces and nephews; and her schnauzer, Buddy.
There will be a graveside service at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 23 at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery.