The Attica-Venice Joint Cemetery is the final
resting place of Clara Edith (Work) Ayres,
who died in the line of duty soon after the
United States entered World War I in April
1917. Mrs. Ayres was born in Venice Township
on September 16, 1880. She graduated from Attica
High School in 1899 and in 1903 married local merchant Wayland Ayres, who died in 1906. Later, she
moved to Chicago and graduated from the Illinois
Training School for Nurses.
Ayres joined Red Cross Unit 12 in 1916. She and
fellow nurse Helen Wood died May 20, 1917 while
their unit was sailing to Europe to join the Allied
war effort. Aboard their ship, the S.S. Mongolia,
a shell exploded prematurely during gunnery
practice. Flying debris killed Ayres and Wood,
the first American women to become casualties
after the United States declared war. Another
nurse, Emma Mazen, was wounded. The Mongolia
immediately returned to port. Nurse Ayres'
remains were returned to Attica and she was given
a funeral of high honor befitting her sacrifice.
She was 36 years old.