Agnes Gertrude Shurr was born October 15, 1915, to Fred and Helen Shurr on a small farm in Elmo Township in Bottineau County, North Dakota. She attended and graduated from Glenburn High School before pursuing a career in nursing starting at St. Joseph's Hospital and School of Nursing. After receiving her degree, she began her nursing career at St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota. In the late 1930s she joined the United States Navy Nurse Corps and was stationed on the USS Solace, one of two hospital ships at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. On December 7, 1941, Shurr was among twelve other nurses on the ship when the Japanese bombed the base. She survived the attack that killed more than 2,300 Americans and damaged the U.S. Pacific Fleet and brought the United States into World War II. Her military nursing career continued into the Korean War when she became a flight nurse along with working in naval hospitals and on hospital ships.
During peace time, Shurr developed her nursing expertise by completing an anesthesia program at Baylor University, then earning her bachelor's degree in nursing from Columbia University. When she retired from the Navy in 1958, she was the Chief of Nursing Service and anesthetist on the hospital ship Haven in Long Beach, California. She had earned the rank of Commander in the Nurse Corps. Agnes then returned to Grand Forks, North Dakota, where she started a school for nurse anesthetists at St. Michael's Hospital. In 1963, as a member of the World Health Organization, Shurr was sent to Afghanistan for two years to train nurses. Shurr then attended Columbia University to earned a master's degree. In 1967, she began working at the College of Nursing at the University of North Dakota. She served as curriculum consultant, coordinator of the sophomore nursing course, and represented the College and faculty on numerous committees. When she retired in 1977, Shurr continued to serve her community by volunteering at Altru Hospital. She was also a member of various associations and groups such as Zonta International, the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, the Minnkota Genealogical Society, and the Prairie Grass Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. On January 10, 2015, Agnes Gertrude Shurr passed away at Valley Memorial Home Eldercare in Grand Forks at the age of ninety-nine.