Virginia Russell Reavis was born in Onslow County, North Carolina, on October 6, 1920. She graduated from high school in Swansboro, North Carolina, then spent a year at Louisburg College in Louisburg, North Carolina. In 1939, she enrolled in nurses’ training at Thompson Memorial Hospital in Lumberton, North Carolina, and graduated three years later.
In October 1942, Reavis enlisted in the U.S. Army and was assigned to the 65th General Hospital based out of Duke University. The unit was sent to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to work wards in the base hospital, but in the summer of 1943 Reavis joined an air evacuation unit. She completed six months of training at Bowman Field, Kentucky, with the 810th Medical Air Evacuation Squadron, which was sent to England in December of 1943. Reavis flew on transatlantic missions until D-Day, when the squadron began primarily evacuating patients from France back to England. Later, her unit was pulled back to Preswick, Scotland, and recommenced transatlantic runs. In August 1945, Reavis returned to the United States and was stationed in Charleston, South Carolina. She was discharged from the army shortly afterwards.
Reavis continued her nursing career for several years following the war, working in Jacksonville, N.C.; as a private duty nurse in Wilmington, N.C.; and in California. In 1947 she married Clay Reavis, a pilot whom she had met while in service. She and her husband lived in California where they raised four children. After their children were grown, Reavis took refresher courses in nursing and used the education to work with the developmentally disabled. The couple later resettled in North Carolina.