Leota Bebee

Written By: nppladmin - Aug• 27•21
Originally published to facebook.com/NorthPlattePL on July 23, 2021.

Today’s Friday history salutes a patriotic American woman, who made North Platte her home. A street in North Platte even bears her name! Read on to learn about his incredible woman.

Leota Hannibal was born on September 17, 1915 to Sankey and Clara Hannibal in McGrew, Nebraska. As a young child, she moved with her family to Dannebrog, Nebraska where she graduated from high school in 1934. Sometime after graduation, Leota moved to North Platte, Nebraska and worked as a Northwestern Bell Telephone operator.

Everett Lester Bebee was born on January 10, 1903 in Ord Nebraska. He moved to North Platte in 1936 and worked for the Texaco Oil Company as a bulk plant operator.

Leota married Everett on September 10, 1943 at Grand Island, Nebraska. Both were dedicated to helping the war effort during WWII; so she served in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps at Fort Banks, Massachusetts in the Motor Corps. Everett was a private in the US Army.

The Women’s Army Corps (WAC) was the women’s branch of the US Army. It was created as an auxiliary unit, the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) on May 15, 1942, then converted to full status as the WAC in 1943. The WAAC was modeled after comparable British units, especially the Auxiliary Territorial Service or ATS. In 1942, the first WAC contingent of 800 members began basic training at Fort Des Moines, Iowa. The women were fitted for uniforms, interviewed, assigned to companies and barracks and inoculated against disease during the first day.

Approximately 150,000 American women served in the WAAC and WAC during WWII. They were the first women other than nurses to serve with the Army. In the early days, the conservative opinion in the leadership of the Army and public opinion was initially opposed to women serving in uniform; the shortage of men necessitated a new policy. While most women served stateside, some went to various places around the World, including Europe, North Africa and New Guinea. Leota was one of those women.

Throughout their marriage, Leota and Everett never had any children. From 1944 to 1960 they owned and operated the McCabe Hotel in North Platte. Leota volunteered tirelessly for the many organizations she belonged. She was a member of the First Christian Church; served at the North Platte Canteen; Fraternal Order of Eagles Auxiliary 2839; P.R. Halligan Post 163 American Legion; Lincoln County Historical Society; Lincoln County Republican Women; and past president 1990-1994 and charter member of the B.P.O. Does Drove 107. She was even a founding member on the Board of Directors for the 20th Century Veterans’ Memorial located in Iron Horse Park.

Leota Street was named after her in 1949, when she and Everett purchased 13 acres there and put the street through.

Leota died on July 25, 2008 in North Platte. Sadly, she did not live long enough to see the statue of Rae Wilson added to the 20th Century Veterans’ Memorial. The Everett and Leota Bebee Fund at the Mid-Nebraska Community Foundation donated the money for this bronze statue, called The Canteen Lady. Of course Rae Wilson-Sleight was the inspiration for this statue.

We salute this inspirational woman. Thank you for reading her story!

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