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Evelyn Grubb, 74; Advocated Humane Treatment for POWs of Vietnam Era

January 04, 2006|From the Washington Post

Evelyn Fowler Grubb, 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. She was 74.

As national coordinator of the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia in 1971 and 1972, Grubb played a part in creating the Arlington, Va.-based league's black-and-white "You Are Not Forgotten" flag, which became a symbol of the POW/MIA movement.

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 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, Grubb met with President Nixon, then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and then-United Nations Ambassador George H.W. Bush, attempting to rally public support for her cause.

Grubb presented a human rights petition to the United Nations calling for humane treatment of POWs and adherence to 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.

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

She 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, Md., in the early 1970s before moving to Melbourne in 1977.

In Florida, Grubb worked as an artist, and was commissioned to do drawings and paintings of houses. She had recently completed work on a book with writer Carol Jose about her experiences with the League of Families.

Survivors include four sons and four grandchildren.

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