Sara Revis (1921-2021): Navy, CIA Officer, Archaeologist
By October 22, 2021 0 113•
Sara Margaret Revis, 99, a retired CIA officer, archaeologist and genealogist, passed away Sept. 23, five days shy of her 100th birthday, at her home in the Aarondale Retirement Community, Springfield, Virginia, after residing on 37th Street in Burleith for 60 years and as a member of St. John’s Episcopal Church, Georgetown.
Born in New Jersey on Sept. 28, 1921, Revis was the third of six children and grew up in Englewood. From 1927 until 1932, she lived in India when her father served with the Methodist Board of Foreign Ministries. She attended the international Woodstock School with her siblings in Mussoorie, a remote and historic hill station in the Himalayas, north of Delhi.
Revis graduated from Randolph Macon Women’s College in Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1942 and began work as a civilian employee of the War Department at the School of Military Government, the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, receiving a special commendation in 1943. From April 1944 to 1948, she was commissioned as a Communications Officer in the U.S. Navy WAVES in Washington, D.C., after completing training at the Naval Reserve Midshipman’s School of Northampton, Massachusetts. She performed “general Cryptocenter duties,” working a series of shifts around the clock, and served in the Navy Reserves from 1946 to 1954.
Intrigued by the formation of the Central Intelligence Agency, Revis made her career there as one of its first women from 1948 to 1975, mainly as a Reports Officer in the D.C.-area headquarters, as well as in Europe, South and Southeast Asia, and South America. She liked to recall that one official complimented her ability to “reduce words to the irreducible minimum.”
In retirement, Revis began a second career in archaeological research, cared for older relatives and travelled in England, China and Russia. She took courses in anthropology, archaeology and ancient history at American University, George Washington University and Northern Virginia Community College.
She worked on numerous archaeological digs in D.C., Massachusetts, Delaware, Israel and Yorkshire, England, as well as Alexandria, Virginia, uncovering relics from urban digs ahead of new developments. She also volunteered in documentary research at the Smithsonian Institution, the National Genealogical Society, the Friends of Alexandria Archaeology and the Alexandria Archaeology Museum. Revis published several journals of family history.
Revis is survived by two sisters, Anne Revis Grosvenor (Mrs. Melville Bell Grosvenor) of Chestertown, Maryland, and Rowena Revis Jones (Mrs. Laird Jones) of Marquette, Michigan; her brother-in-law, Stan Judge of Shelburne, New Hampshire; as well as 16 nieces and nephews and numerous great-nieces and nephews.