World War II cadet nurse loses home to Hurricane Ian

Published: Oct. 5, 2022 at 9:02 AM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Thelma Gulden has certainly seen her share of hard knocks.

The 99-year-old Oakwood Manor resident lost her husband nearly two years ago. She came down with COVID -- twice -- during the pandemic, was even hospitalized, and prevailed.

She survived a stroke. She recovered from open heart surgery. And last week, her mobile home of 30 years was reduced to a pile of rubble by Hurricane Ian. “The house is not livable,” Gulden said.

Despite her struggles, she is not giving up hope and is helping her community bounce back. “It’s awful. I can’t explain the feeling you have,” she said, describing losing her home.

But — she is a survivor. “Until it hits you, you don’t know,” she says.

A matriarch of her community, friends and neighbors have always been inspired by Thelma’s resilience. One of her neighbors said, “I hope I’m like you when I am your age.”

Perhaps her resilience is a skill she acquired while serving her country. She was a cadet nurse who served during World War II.

“We covered the home front. We would replace the nurses that had to go [overseas].” She was called to serve back in 1943, and now, Gulden says she has been called to serve again, this time, cleaning up her neighborhood.

Gulden and her friends are banding together to rebuild their community.

If you would like to donate to help Thelma Gulden, donate here.