Verna Vanda Basso Gatlin Verna

Published 11:53 am Thursday, March 28, 2013


Verna Vanda Basso Gatlin Verna was born at 807 East Mill Street, in Staunton, Ill., on July 25, 1923, the youngest child of Victor Dominic Basso and Paolina Gaetana Testolin. She passed from this life on Wednesday, March 27, 2013, in New Orleans.

Her parents were immigrants from Italy and even though Verna was born in the United States, she and her sister, Velina Basso Brumme, were included on the naturalization document when her father became a citizen. She attended Staunton public schools and graduated in Staunton High School Class of 1941. She was active in school as member of the choir and was a cheerleader. She was a member of the Staunton chapter of the American Red Cross.

After high school, she went to St. Louis, Mo., to attend nursing school. She became ill the first semester and by the time she had gotten well, the school had been included in the cadet program during the war, whereas all graduates of the nursing program would be sworn in as a nurse in the U.S. Army. Her father came and took her home.

She went to work with a friend from the area who sold magazine subscriptions. She traveled with this group to North Carolina where she met 2nd Lt. Ollie Howard Gatlin, from Franklinton, in October of 1942. On Jan. 13, 1943, the Army chaplain at Ft. Fisher, N.C, married them. She followed her husband to Texas and later California while he was in training for deployment to the Pacific with the 389th Ant-Aircraft Battalion. Upon his deployment, she returned to Staunton to await the birth of their first child.

Little did she know that for the next 30-plus years she would become an expert in languages and packing. Verna spoke Italian, Japanese, French and Spanish, along with English. Her gift of languages made her a great help to other families who were transferred to foreign lands. At each base, she became a member of the Red Cross Gray Ladies. In 1965, Lt. Col. Ollie Gatlin retired from the military and the family moved to Folsom.

At the age of 50, Verna returned to nursing school and completed her LPN certification. She then attended Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond and completed her degree plan in social welfare. She spent 15 years volunteer teaching at Southeastern Mental Hospital. She served St. Gertrude’s as the nurse for the summer sessions for the handicapped children. For the past several years she had volunteered at the Folsom Schools as a reading tutor.

Lt. Col. Gatlin predeceased her in 1999 after 56 years of marriage.

Verna leaves four children, Ana Gatlin Hoyle and husband, Bill, of New Orleans; Andre Gatlin Skains and husband, Robbie, of Angleton, Texas; Karl A. Gatlin and wife, Norma, of New Orleans; and Melissa A. Gatlin, of New Orleans. She leaves six grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at a later date. Interment will be in Ellis Cemetery in Franklinton.

Crain Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.