Reva Pauline Ingram Fortune was born in Colfax, Illinois, and raised on a farm outside of Greensboro, North Carolina. She was one of six children; two of her sisters also served in the military during World War II. After graduating from Greensboro High School in 1933, Fortune worked as a secretary at Pomona Terra-Cotta Company.
Fortune enlisted in the Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC) in the spring of 1943 and attended basic training at Daytona Beach, Florida. She was then assigned to Buckingham Army Air Field at Fort Myers, Florida, where she served as company clerk and first sergeant of a WAC squadron. Fortune was stationed there until the air field closed in 1945. She was then transferred to Turner Field in Albany, Georgia, for six months. From there she was sent to Goodfellow Field in San Angelo, Texas. Three months later Fortune was assigned to Randolph Field in San Antonio, where she remained for several years. While at Randolph Field, Fortune attended night classes at Trinity College and met her future husband, Roy Fortune, a paratrooper in the 11th Airborne Division. In 1948, the air force separated from the army, and Fortune re-enlisted for another four years with the WAF.
In 1952, when her enlistment was up, Fortune was stationed in Fort Myer, Virginia. She then married Roy Fortune and left the Air Force. When Roy Fortune was stationed overseas in 1953 and 1954, Reva Fortune returned to Greensboro and moved in with her parents. She enrolled in classes at Woman’s College (now the University of North Carolina at Greensboro) on the GI Bill and graduated in 1958 with a degree in biology and a minor in Spanish. The following year she went to work for the Social Security Administration in High Point, North Carolina, where she remained for twenty-five years, until her retirement in 1984.