POW/MIA Family Activist Evelyn Fowler Grubb Dies

By Matt Schudel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 2, 2006

Evelyn Fowler Grubb, 74, a leader in gaining recognition for Vietnam-era prisoners of war and American military personnel missing in Southeast Asia, died Dec. 28 of breast cancer at her home in Melbourne, Fla.

As national coordinator of the National League of POW/MIA Families in Washington in 1971 and 1972, Mrs. Grubb played a part in creating the league's "You Are Not Forgotten" black-and-white flag, which has become a symbol of the POW/MIA movement. She presented the first flag to then-Defense Secretary Melvin Laird.

Mrs. Grubb took an unexpected step into the limelight after her husband, Air Force Capt. Wilmer Newlin "Newk" Grubb, was shot down over North Vietnam in January 1966. His photograph was released as an example of "humane" treatment of American prisoners of war, and Mrs. Grubb spent years hoping to be reunited with her husband.

When surviving American POWs were released in February 1973, Capt. Grubb was not among them, and it was learned that he had died in captivity years before. Through the National League of Families, Mrs. Grubb met with President Richard M. Nixon, then-Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger and then-ambassador to the United Nations, George H.W. Bush, attempting to rally public support for her cause.

She presented a human rights petition to the United Nations, calling for humane treatment of POWs and adherence the Geneva Conventions governing the treatment of prisoners of war. She spoke with government officials in several European countries and to the governing body of the International Red Cross in Switzerland, advocating the release of prisoners.

Mrs. Grubb and her organization also urged that the bodies of prisoners who died in prison be returned to their families. Her husband's remains were finally returned to the United States in 1974 and buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Mrs. Grubb was born in Pittsburgh and graduated from Pennsylvania State University. She received a master's degree in education from Penn State in 1954.

She lived in Silver Spring in the early 1970s before moving to Melbourne in 1977.

In Florida, she worked as an artist and was commissioned to do drawings and paintings of houses. She was a substitute teacher and enjoyed bridge, travel and boating. She recently completed work on a book with writer Carol Jose about her experiences with the League of Families.

Survivors include four sons, Jeffrey Grubb of Santa Cruz, Calif., Roland Grubb of Ypsilanti, Mich., Stephen "Van" Grubb of Indialantic, Fla., and Roy Grubb of Melbourne; a companion, Frank Campbell of Melbourne; and four grandchildren.

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