Elsie P. Pickett of Chapel Hill was born December 25th, 1936 in rural Robeson County, North Carolina. She spent her early life attending school in Lumberton, North Carolina, where she worked for the city’s recreation department. Upon graduation from Lumberton High School she immediately enrolled at the Women’s College in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Initially majoring in an interdisciplinary recreation program, Pickett graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology in three years. Pickett then enrolled in the master’s program of recreation at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. In 1959, before finishing her graduate thesis, she accepted an officer’s commission with the United States Women’s Army Corps [WAC].
Pickett underwent officer basic training at Fort McClellan, Alabama. Upon graduation, she accepted a position as a platoon commander attached to the WAC training battalion at Fort McClellan. After the death of her stepfather, Pickett arranged to be transferred to Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
While at Fort Bragg, Pickett held several simultaneous positions: including an assistant to the Deputy Chief of Personnel (G-1), staff officer for the 18th Airborne Corps, and supervising officer for the base entertainment division. On October 24, 1962, after being denied discharge, Pickett reported to Bremerhaven, Germany, to serve as a WAC company commander.
After impressing a general officer attached to United States Army Communications Zone, Europe [USACOMZEUR], Pickett was transferred to the headquarters of the command in Orleans, France, to serve as an officer attached to the command’s G-1. While at USACOMZEUR, Pickett was tasked with finding creative ways in which to improve morale and lower infraction rates at the twenty subordinate installations under the prevue of the communications command.
Pickett served at USACOMZEUR from late 1962 through 1964. In 1963, while attached to USACOMZEUR, Pickett was married to her husband. After completing her assignment at USACOMZEUR Pickett left the military and become an instructor of sociology at the University of Central Arkansas.