Edna Smith Wilson was born in Plainfield, New Jersey, on 8 March 1922, the oldest of five children. When she was a teenager her family moved to Hendersonville, North Carolina, and then to Conway, Arkansas. She attended the University of Arkansas and graduated in 1943 with a major in French.
Wilson joined the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve in April 1943 and completed boot camp at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, that summer. She spent the duration of her service in San Francisco, California, as a supply clerk. Wilson was discharged in April 1946.
Wilson married in 1947 and lived in Germany, California, New York, Hawaii, and Connecticut with her husband while he was in the air force. They had two sons and later settled in Washington, D.C. Edna Wilson passed away in April 2008.