Eunice L. Kimmitt, 84, an Army wife who had eight children, drove a school bus and shepherded her family through war, death and politics, died of chronic pulmonary obstructive disease Nov. 25 at her home in McLean.
Mrs. Kimmitt lived in the Washington area for 46 years, raising her family and volunteering at her children's schools in McLean and Arlington. She accompanied her husband to Army posts in Germany in the early 1960s and to official congressional functions and travels when he worked on Capitol Hill.
She drove a school bus for St. John's Catholic Grade School in McLean in the late 1950s, which prepared her for towing a camping trailer across Europe on family trips a few years later.
When the Berlin Wall went up in 1961 and the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 exacerbated political tensions, her husband was deployed to the German border and Mrs. Kimmitt was responsible for packing up the family in case hostilities forced an evacuation. The family returned to suburban Washington in 1964. Her husband, J. Stanley Kimmitt, served as an aide to Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.) and later as secretary of the Senate.
"She was the classic service wife and a member of the Greatest Generation, even though her service, like that of most of her female contemporaries, did not have the visibility of her husband's," said one of her sons, Robert M. Kimmitt, deputy secretary of the Treasury and former ambassador to Germany.
Eunice Leona Wegener, the granddaughter of German immigrants, was born in Napoleon, Mo., and attended William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo., and Sarachon-Hooley Business College in Kansas City, Mo. She worked for Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. in Kansas City in 1943, then moved to Chicago to work for Standard Oil the next year.
She joined the American Red Cross in 1945 and was sent to France and Germany to set up Red Cross clubs. She met her husband, an Army officer, in Germany, and they married in 1947.
He went to war in Korea, and later two of her sons also served in wars, one in Vietnam and another in Iraq. Mrs. Kimmitt lived in Utah, Oklahoma and Kansas in addition to her four years in Germany, during which she visited 10 countries. She visited more than 50 other countries on congressional trips, including a time in 1978 when she slipped on the steps of a Parisian cathedral and broke her left arm and a kneecap.
She was a member of St. John's Catholic Church in McLean and volunteered at Bishop O'Connell High School in Arlington.
A daughter, Margaret C. Kimmitt, died in infancy in the 1950s. Another daughter, Kathleen A. Ross, died in 2002. A son, Dr. Thomas P. Kimmitt, who was struck by a vehicle and lived in a coma for 18 years, died in 2003. Her husband died in 2004.
Besides Robert Kimmitt, survivors include two other sons, Joseph H. Kimmitt of McLean and Army Gen. Mark T. Kimmitt of Tampa; two daughters, Mary K. Laxton of Bamberg, Germany, and Judy K. Rainey of Vienna; 13 grandchildren; and a great-grandson.