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­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Dimmick, Gladys Lunsford

By State Archives of North Carolina and Kelly Agan, Government & Heritage Library, 2018.

8 Nov. 1923 – 5 May 2011

Gladys Lunsford Dimmick joined the U.S. Naval Reserves program Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (known as WAVES) during World War II. The WAVES program was established on July 30, 1942 to formally include women in the Navy to address emergency personnel needs. During WWII, more than 80,000 women participated in the program, and they filled an extraordinary range of military jobs. These included traditional secretarial jobs and also highly technical and advanced positions such as control tower operators, transport and test pilots and positions in military communications and intelligence gathering. In 1948, women were at last given permanent status in all branches of the U.S. military with the Women's Armed Services Integration Act, ending the WAVES program.

Gladys M. Lunsford was born on November 8, 1923, in the community of Cedar Grove in Orange County, North Carolina, to Harvie R. and Biddie R. Lunsford.

Lunsford graduated from Bragtown High School in Durham, North Carolina in 1939. After high school, she spent several years working at the nearby Liggett-Myers Tobacco Company factory in Durham.

In December 1943 during World War II, she enlisted in the women’s branch of the U.S. Naval Reserve, known as WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). This service had been established by Congress the year before in 1942 as the U.S. Navy Women’s Reserve, giving women official status as officers in the U.S. Navy. She attended boot camp at Hunter College in New York. In February 1944, Lunsford was assigned to work in air traffic control as a control tower operator at the U.S. Naval Air Station in Norfolk, Virginia. She married Jim Dimmick in December 1946.

She left the WAVES in February 1947. The Dimmicks moved to St. Petersburg, Florida, where they both attended the University of Florida under the GI Bill following WWII and also started their family. In 1954, the Dimmick family settled in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

In Chapel Hill, Gladys Dimmick worked at the University of North Carolina Law School for 24 years an administrative assistment for several deans, including Dean J. Dickson Phillips. She also worked there as the Law Alumni Coordinator and as the Director of of Placement and Alumni Secretary. When Dickson Philips was appointed as Judge of the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, Dimmick relocated to Richmond, Virginia to be his personal secretary.

Gladys Dimmick was a member of American Legion Post 6 in Chapel Hill. She also participated in the Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project at the University of North Carolina at Greesnboro, contributing an oral history interview and her papers to the library's collection. She also contributed an oral history to the collection of the State Archives of North Carolina.

Gladys L. Dimmick died on May 5, 2011, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.


MilColl OH 232, Gladys L. Dimmick Interview, June 6, 2004, Military Veterans Oral History Collection, Military Collection, State Archives of North Carolina, Raleigh, N.C. (accessed February 19, 2018).

Gladys Dimmick Papers, WV0055, UNC-Greensboro University Libraries.

Gladys Dimmick Collection, Women Veterans Historical Project, UNC-G Libraries. (accessed February 19, 2018).

The University of North Carolina School of Law: A Sesquicentennial History, 73 N.C. L. Rev. 563 (1995). (accessed February 19, 2018).

William B. Aycock, (Sesquicentennial) An Evolving Institution: The Deanship of Robert G. Byrd (1974-79), 73 N.C. L. Rev. 622 (1995). (accessed February 19, 2018).

"Gladys Lunsford Dimmick."  News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), May 8, 2011.