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Prudence Burrell

Nurse Prudence Hathaway Burns Burrell was born on March 23, 1916, in Mounds, Illinois, to Al Wade and Mary Burns. Burrell was raised in Danville, Illinois by Gwendolyn Chambliss, her caretaker. Growing up in Southern Illinois, she attended Douglas Elementary School in Danville. An outstanding Latin student, Burrell graduated from Lovejoy High School in Mound City in 1934. She attended nursing school at Kansas City’s segregated General Hospital No. 2. Burrell passed the state nursing board certification examination in 1939 as a registered nurse and soon enrolled in the University of Minnesota.

With the onset of World War II, Burrell decided to join the United States Army Nurse Corps at Fort Huachuca, Arizona in 1942. There, she tended to the famed Buffalo Soldiers and met dancer Fayard Nicholas. Although she attained the rank of first lieutenant of the United States Army Nursing Corps, she was not allowed to treat white troops because of her race. In 1943, Burrell was sent to Station Hospital 268 in Sydney, Australia, then to Brisbane, and eventually to Milne Bay, New Guinea in 1944. There, she taught first-aid techniques to other units, treated gun shot and other wounds, and specialized in the treatment of malaria. Transferred to the Philippine Islands in 1945, Burrell met and married Detroit native, Lieutenant Lowell Burrell. After a simple ceremony consisting of a wedding gown made from a parachute and a fifty-cent ring, she was transferred to Germany during the integration of the United States Armed Forces.

Returning to the United States, Burrell taught at Pacific Lutheran Hospital and earned her B.S. degree in public health from the University of Minnesota in 1951. Eventually, she and her husband moved back to Detroit where she taught mathematics in the Detroit Public Schools and became a health care analyst for the State of Michigan. An active volunteer in Detroit, Burrell delighted in sharing her past with school children. Burrell published her life story in a book called Hathaway in 1997.

Burrell passed away on February 29, 2012 at age 95.

Accession Number

A2007.077

Sex

Female

Interview Date

3/7/2007

Last Name

Burrell

Occupation
Organizations
Schools

Lovejoy High School

Douglas Elementary School

University of Minnesota

First Name

Prudence

Birth City, State, Country

Mounds

HM ID

BUR17

Favorite Season

None

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

Hello, How Are You?

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Michigan

Birth Date

3/23/1916

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Detroit

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Fried Chicken

Death Date

2/29/2012

Short Description

Teacher and nurse Prudence Burrell (1916 - 2012 ) attained the rank of first lieutenant of the United States Army Nursing Corps and served during World War II. She also taught mathematics in Detroit Public Schools, and became a health care analyst for the State of Michigan.

Employment

United States Army Nurse Corps

Detroit Public Schools System

Tuskegee Institute

Pacific Lutheran University

State of Michigan

Favorite Color

None

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Prudence Burrell's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Prudence Burrell lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Prudence Burrell describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Prudence Burrell describes her maternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Prudence Burrell lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Prudence Burrell remembers her maternal uncle

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Prudence Burrell describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Prudence Burrell remembers her maternal grandmother's embalming

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Prudence Burrell describes her likeness to her maternal grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Prudence Burrell describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Prudence Burrell remembers her love of dancing

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Prudence Burrell describes her schooling

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Prudence Burrell remembers Lovejoy High School in Mound City, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Prudence Burrell recalls her experiences of discrimination in southern Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Prudence Burrell remembers the Chambliss family

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Prudence Burrell recalls her accomplishments at Lovejoy High School

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Prudence Burrell recalls becoming a nurse at the General Hospital No. 2 in Kansas City, Missouri, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Prudence Burrell recalls becoming a nurse at the General Hospital No. 2 in Kansas City, Missouri, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Prudence Burrell recalls the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Prudence Burrell remembers the start of World War II

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Prudence Burrell recalls her assignment to Fort Huachuca in Arizona, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Prudence Burrell recalls her assignment to Fort Huachuca in Arizona, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Prudence Burrell remembers her deployment to the South Pacific

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Prudence Burrell describes her experiences of discrimination in Australia

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Prudence Burrell recalls being stationed in New Guinea

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Prudence Burrell recalls her U.S. military service in the Philippines

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Prudence Burrell remembers Eleanor Roosevelt

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Prudence Burrell recalls her meeting with Mary McLeod Bethune

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Prudence Burrell remembers her rescinded promotion

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Prudence Burrell describes her husband

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Prudence Burrell describes her wedding dress

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Prudence Burrell remembers moving to Detroit, Michigan

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Prudence Burrell recalls facing discrimination at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Prudence Burrell recalls her career as a healthcare analyst

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Prudence Burrell remembers teaching in the Detroit Public Schools

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Prudence Burrell talks about her nursing education

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Prudence Burrell describes her work as a healthcare analyst

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Prudence Burrell talks about her book, 'Hathaway'

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Prudence Burrell describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Prudence Burrell reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Prudence Burrell talks about her family

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Prudence Burrell describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Prudence Burrell narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

5$5

DATitle
Prudence Burrell recalls becoming a nurse at the General Hospital No. 2 in Kansas City, Missouri, pt. 1
Prudence Burrell describes her wedding dress
Transcript
Then that's when I decided that I was going instead of teaching, I was gonna be a nurse. And that's when the guy who had been a principal at the school when I was at--in Lovejoy [Lovejoy High School, Mound City, Illinois], he had been the principal. And he was a doctor and he was head of the hospital for blacks in Kansas City [Missouri]. And he and Gwendolyn Chambliss, you see, the Chambliss family, so therefore they made contact with him and helped me to get ready and sent me there to become a nurse.$$Okay, so this is a black hospital in Kansas City?$$Yes, and we were connected with the whites with a tunnel.$$Okay.$$It was all segregated.$$Okay, now, what was the name of the hospital?$$General Hospital No. 2, Kansas City, Missouri.$$Okay.$$And General Hospital No. 1 [Kansas City, Missouri] was the white.$$Okay, General Hospital No. 2.$$Yes, and that's when that ol' buzzard had a haberdasher [Truman and Jacobson Haberdashery, Kansas City, Missouri] down from our hospital and from the prostituting area of the white women, and he had a haberdasher, that ol' president.$$What was his name?$$The one that died, I mean, you know, what was ol' buzzard's name?$$Oh, a president of the United States?$$Yes.$$From Kansas?$$Yes, from Kansas City, Missouri.$$Oh, Truman.$$Yes.$$Harry Truman [President Harry S. Truman].$$Yes, ol' Harry Truman. I remember when he had a haberdasher and his store there at the red light district. And we used to tell the students when they would come in the mail, "Get in the car, we're gonna show you something." And we'd say, "Now get down, get down." And we'd drive by there, you see, 'cause we had friends with cars. And so we'd say, "Okay, sit up so we can see them knocking on the windows at you," (laughter). And ol' Truman had a haberdasher there, 'cause he was from Independence [Missouri], you know.$$Okay, right, exactly.$$Yes.$$Okay.$$And they would make us vote at five o'clock in the morning. They'd send a big truck thing there and wanted us to get in there and come in there and vote. And I'd go in there and mark everything on the thing.$$You'd vote for everything?$$(Laughter) I'd just mark every square on the thing.$$Now, did you have any idea then that Truman was gonna be important?$$No, no. He was a haberdasher working hard. And we didn't know that we were gonna be--I was gonna be a, a visiting nurse, you see, which is called public health nurse, but we then was called visiting nurses. And when I did my student work then I was sent to university--when I finished they had a job and they sent me up to University of Minnesota [University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Minneapolis, Minnesota], and that's when I went up there and start working on my degree.$$Okay now, I don't wanna go too fast--$$Yes.$$--but in Kansas City at the hospital, were you the only black student there?$$No, there was all black (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Okay. All right, because it was in a colored hospital?$$Sure.$$Okay.$$That was all black.$$Okay, so how, how many years did you go to school there?$$Three.$$Three years.$$And then--$And I, I believe that you carry an artifact around with you that commemorates that occasion (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Yeah, there is. There it is.$$And now is the time to show it I think.$$You want me to show it to you?$$Yeah, just reach over. And now, this is--it has a special significance. And you carry this around in your purse is what I've been told.$$Um-hm.$$And you show it when you speak, right?$$Um-hm.$$So, let's see this.$$You wanna see it?$$Yes.$$Did you see me take it out of the purse?$$Yeah, he's got it on camera here, we're--. Maybe you can explain to us what this is.$$A Filipino made it.$$Okay.$$One of the American girls with us designed it, and the Filipino made it. Uh-oh, that's all right.$$So what is it? Now, what are we looking at here? This is--well that's--that looks pretty well designed there too, yeah.$$I've got to get it together here. I have to get it together for you. See.$$Yes, okay. And that's the top.$$Isn't that something?$$Okay, all right. I guess I have to say it but this is a wedding gown, right?$$Uh-huh, yes.$$All right, and what is it made out of?$$Out of a parachute--$$Okay.$$--material, see.$$So that's ingenuity I'd say.$$Yeah, can you see it? That's enough, isn't it?$$Yes mam.$$And you see, and I didn't bring my ring that cost fifty cents and it's pure gold with Philippines written on it, my wedding ring.$$So the ring only cost fifty cents in the Philippines?$$Um-hm, yes.$$Pure gold?$$Fifty cents, pure gold. You ought to see it and you'll see that it's still just like it just came out. Well, that was during the war [World War II, WWII] where the people were just getting rid of whatever they could. I have tablecloths and everything down there in the bottom part of my drawer, for serving and everything from the Philippines. Yes indeed, napkins and everything that are just beautiful, and I don't know what I'm gonna do with all that stuff now 'cause I don't really do a lot of entertaining anymore. You finished with this, young man?$$Yes, ma'am.$$And you see how that fits into a purse?$$Folds up pretty nice just like a parachute should.$$Yes, yes (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) That's right.

Thelma Gibson

Thelma Vernell Anderson Gibson was born on December 17, 1926 in Coconut Grove, Florida. She was the sixth of fourteen children born to Sweetlon Counts Albury Anderson and Thomas Theodore Anderson. At that time, Coconut Grove was divided into “Colored Town” and “White Town”. Gibson lived in “Colored Town,” and her parents’ house on Charles Street had no electricity or running water. Gibson graduated in February of 1944 from George Washington Carver High School.

Gibson attended Saint Agnes School of Nursing at Saint Augustine’s College in Raleigh, North Carolina. In August of 1947, she became a registered nurse specializing in operating techniques. Gibson worked in the “Colored Wards” of Jackson Memorial Hospital. Before continuing her education under the tutelage of Dr. Mary Carnegie at Florida A&M University and between 1954 and 1955, Gibson attended Washington, D.C.’s Catholic University. In 1956, she attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she studied cancer and communicable diseases. Gibson attended the University of Miami from 1957 to 1958 and earned her B.S. degree in nursing education in 1959, after one year of study at the Teachers College at Columbia University in New York.

Gibson has worked in a variety of health organizations including the E.J. Hall Clinic in Miami, Florida; the Gallinger Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C.; the Dade County Health Department; and the Riverside Hospital for Teenaged Drug Addicts. She also served as Nursing Supervisor and Part-time Social Worker for Mount Sinai Hospital from 1967 until 1980. In August, 1997, Gibson was appointed Miami’s interim City Commissioner. In 1984, she founded the Women’s Chamber of Commerce of Dade County.

Gibson has received many honors and awards, including a membership as Founder of the Jewish Home for the Aged, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Drum Major for Justice Award, the Jewish Home and Hospital Women’s Auxiliary Sacred Heart Award, and the Jackson Memorial Hospital Image Committee Award, among others. She is also President of the Theodore Roosevelt Gibson Memorial Fund, Inc.; a Trustee at the University of Miami; a Life Member of the NAACP; and she serves on the board for the Coconut Grove Cares Mental Health Association. She sponsored the Gibson Health Initiative, which provides testing and assistance for HIV/AIDS. In the fall of 2000, she published her autobiography, Forbearance, Thelma Vernell Anderson Gibson, the Life of a Coconut Grove Native. She also helped form the Theodore and Thelma School of the Performing Arts in Coconut Grove, named after herself and her late husband, the late Reverend Canon Theodore Roosevelt Gibson.

Accession Number

A2006.019

Sex

Female

Interview Date

2/16/2006

Last Name

Gibson

Maker Category
Middle Name

Vernell

Schools

George Washington Carver High School

St. Augustine's University

Coconut Grove Elementary School

First Name

Thelma

Birth City, State, Country

Coconut Grove

HM ID

GIB05

Favorite Season

Fall, Winter

State

Florida

Favorite Vacation Destination

Bahamas

Favorite Quote

How About That.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Florida

Birth Date

12/17/1926

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Cocunut Grove

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Peas (Pigeon), Rice, Fish, Salad

Death Date

5/2/2011

Short Description

City commissioner and nurse Thelma Gibson (1926 - 2011 ) worked in the city government of Miami, Florida.

Favorite Color

Orange, Purple

Timing Pairs
0,0:5954,88:22327,317:23458,348:24328,360:31094,403:33194,447:34118,466:34622,473:40754,594:41678,619:46216,632:47678,654:56106,817:56880,828:60890,849:63517,894:68416,992:69836,1053:76652,1215:77859,1240:79421,1278:93445,1402:93817,1407:98639,1445:103661,1540:104552,1547:105443,1561:109007,1639:117966,1725:118902,1763:119448,1775:122256,1822:123426,1842:154508,2387:155804,2407:156452,2420:158396,2472:160052,2503:161996,2552:164300,2595:174676,2658:175096,2664:176020,2678:177700,2704:182404,2802:194243,2950:195552,2976:195937,2982:206101,3187:206563,3194:207487,3241:215637,3292:216195,3299:216753,3306:226704,3459:228378,3488:230517,3529:231354,3541:231726,3546:238690,3644:240440,3679:241420,3703:245340,3782:245760,3789:246600,3804:255349,3931:256809,3956:257174,3962:259510,4021:261408,4056:261773,4062:265058,4288:271628,4356:272869,4384:273380,4392:280738,4495:284050,4601:284482,4608:286714,4644:287362,4655:291610,4735:292690,4755:293410,4766:297946,4842:303190,4880$0,0:6561,195:14256,338:14742,345:15309,354:15633,359:18306,411:38193,697:38809,711:41735,766:53570,899:55410,933:58130,1086:58530,1092:59090,1100:60850,1129:62850,1183:65970,1273:66370,1279:67810,1319:70850,1361:71410,1373:72210,1386:77736,1421:78741,1442:84704,1587:89059,1681:89863,1697:90935,1719:91404,1727:91940,1737:103020,1892:104350,1921:105190,1934:110720,2083:115690,2196:116390,2207:116670,2212:120952,2229:124648,2305:127504,2361:134674,2479:135130,2488:135434,2493:135814,2499:136346,2508:145466,2678:150166,2714:150684,2722:151202,2730:156604,2847:156974,2853:157344,2860:171602,3102:171886,3109:172596,3118:182388,3259:183202,3272:184460,3296:185126,3307:185422,3312:185940,3322:187864,3368:188382,3377:189788,3409:191934,3451:192896,3467:193858,3485:194450,3495:195856,3514:201686,3589:202962,3627:203310,3634:204320,3639
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Thelma Gibson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Thelma Gibson lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Thelma Gibson describes her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Thelma Gibson describes how her family prioritized education

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Thelma Gibson describes her maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Thelma Gibson lists her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Thelma Gibson describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Thelma Gibson describes her family's community in Coconut Grove, Miami, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Thelma Gibson describes her parents' marriage

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Thelma Gibson recalls her relationship with her siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Thelma Gibson describes her schools in Coconut Grove, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Thelma Gibson describes community institutions in Coconut Grove, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Thelma Gibson recalls growing up during the Great Depression

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Thelma Gibson recalls joining the Cadet Nurse Corps during World War II

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Thelma Gibson describes the start of her nursing career

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Thelma Gibson recalls moving to Richmond Heights, Florida

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Thelma Gibson describes going back to school for nursing

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Thelma Gibson recalls her career after her marriage

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Thelma Gibson talks about volunteering after her husband's death

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Thelma Gibson describes her community development work in Coconut Grove, Miami, Florida

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Thelma Gibson describes her history with the University of Miami

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Thelma Gibson describes charity projects that bear her name

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Thelma Gibson talks about awards she has won in her community

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Thelma Gibson describes her hopes for the future

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Thelma Gibson reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Thelma Gibson narrates her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$2

DAStory

5$6

DATitle
Thelma Gibson recalls growing up during the Great Depression
Thelma Gibson recalls joining the Cadet Nurse Corps during World War II
Transcript
We just left off, describing life in Coconut Grove [Miami, Florida]. Now you were born right before the Depression [Great Depression] and you came of age right before and during World War II [WWII]. What are some of things that you remember about those two pivotal times?$$I could remember during the '30s [1930s], early '30s [1930s], during the Depression, that people had to go to welfare. And Mr. Jackson, we had a man by the name of Melvin Jackson, who was a social worker for this area. And he ran cleaners right on the corner of Douglas [Road]--on the corner of Hibiscus [Street] and Grand [Avenue]. And his wife did the sewing and repairs in there, and he did the welfare. So, those people who had to go for flour and rice and that sort of thing, he sort of decided who. And he was the person who would decide who would get the things that government was giving out. And I could remember us going to get rice and flour, and then there was a meat market. And we had a man name Thomas Horse [ph.] and Mr. Horse would always save the bones from the meat after he cut it up. And said, "This was for Ms. Anderson [Sweetlon Albury Anderson], come here child, get these bones to take home to your mama to make some soup." And so people looked out for you. Everybody knew who needed what, and they sort of helped. And so I could remember wearing clothes that were made out of flour sacks. They would get the gingham and make little skirts and stuff for you out of the material that came with the flour sacks. So it was a time that I remember that people went for. And we were a part of that group who had to get some of the things from the Jacksons, the sugar and the rice and the flour. And mama knew how to make bread and papa [Thomas Anderson] always made johnny cake. So we survived through the whole area of--and never, never had a day that we were hungry. People always looked out for you. And my grandparents would, my aunts and my uncles would look out. I had aunts who had favorite children, my aunt, one aunt had let my brother Percy [Percy Anderson] and she looked out for him and did almost everything for him. I had an aunt who loved my brother Billy [William Anderson] and she did everything for Billy. And bought his clothes, and I had an aunt who would bring us school clothes and the things that we needed. We were able to get, because we had all these relatives all around. And while we were--there were a lot of us, mama was the only one, and I guess from her family, who had all these children, papa was the only one from his family. My papa had one sister, his oldest sister had one girl. His second sister had three children, two boys and a girl. And his third sister had a boy and a girl. And they were the only family members I had one cousin living from my paternal--papa's side of the family. Whereas, mama had, he had eleven of us, and between all of them they just had six.$$Right.$$So it was like everybody having--my Uncle John [ph.] who had no children, would always bring bread, and oh we had my cinnamon buns and stuff that he'd bring from the bakery. Holsum Bakery [South Miami, Florida] over town where he worked. And it always nice to see him coming, 'cause you knew he was coming with all these goodies and stuff. And then mama's family always looked out for us, and so we were well taken care. I had, I worked for Ms. Sawyer [ph.], on Saturdays I scrubbed her kitchen and got twenty-five cents. And that twenty-five cents paid for my ten cents to go to the movies, and five cents for popcorn and then you went to the Dew Drop Inn [Miami, Florida] and got a five cents ice cream cone. So they were the days that you had little but everything cost little, so we managed to survive. And then I had a nickel for Sunday school for the next day. So, and we went to Sunday school, went to church in the morning at eleven o'clock. Went home, had dinner, you were back at Sunday school at three o'clock. You went to Young People's Service League at six o'clock and then back at church at seven thirty. So it was your day, your Sundays were taken up with church. Now when my late husband [Theodore Roosevelt Gibson] came to Christ Church [Christ Episcopal Church, Miami, Florida], and he wasn't my husband at the time, when he came here. But he started saying that church was more than just a Sunday thing. So he started having Young People's Service League on Mondays. So the kids would go, would not have to go to Sunday school on Sunday and then Young People's Service League and then back to church. They were able to go to Sunday school and then the next day at six o'clock on Monday, you went to Young People's Service League. And so things started being spread out over the whole week rather than everything being on Sundays. But by then I was away in nursing school, when he came to Christ Church.$That was the Depression [Great Depression], what about, what effect did World War II [WWII] (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) When the war, when I, I never shall forget, I could hear the news that December 7th of 1941, when they said the World War, that Pearl Harbor [Naval Station Pearl Harbor, Hawaii] had struck and the war was on. And things began to move around here, and people started going to the [U.S.] Army. But it wasn't until 1944 that I really felt what it all meant, because my brother and one of my classmates, Thomas [Thomas E. Anderson] and my classmate Earl Counts [ph.] were called, and they had to go. And they were just boys of 19 and 20, 18 and 19, and it began to hit home that this was real, this thing called war. And, fortunately though, because of the war, they started the [U.S.] Cadet Nurse Corps, and I was able to get my nursing, I went into the Cadet Nurse Corps. When I went, not knowing anything about it, when I got to St. Agnes [St. Agnes Hospital, Raleigh, North Carolina], mama [Sweetlon Albury Anderson] and papa [Thomas Anderson] had borrowed three hundred dollars for me to get on the train to go Raleigh [North Carolina] to go to nursing school.$$Three hundred dollars.$$So, they borrowed three hundred dollars. They bought my train ticket, and they pinned the rest of the money in my bosom, so that I could pay my tuition and everything. When I got to Raleigh, there was a nurse there that was from Coconut Grove [Miami, Florida] who was the assistant director nurse, Myrtle Albury, she was Myrtle Roberts at the time. And she said, "You know, they have the Cadet Nurse Corps and we could sign you up to be a Cadet Nurse, you won't have to pay any money. And they give fifteen dollars a month for the first two years. And then when you get to be a senior you get thirty dollars a month." Well that was a lot of money in those days. And so there was no phone for me to call mama to tell her this, so I wrote her and told her that I was going to be joining the Nurse Cadet Corps. Well, she wrote me back and told me, no I wasn't. Because she didn't want me in the Army, my brother was in the Army. She didn't want me in the Army, she did not understand that this was not the Army. The Nurse Cadet Corps, all you want to do was promise that you would work at least two years after you finished your nursing school. You would work for two years and that would pay back Uncle Sam. So, and then when I told her I was going to send her some money back, it made a difference. And I wrote and said, "Mama, I join this, they give you a uniform, you get an overcoat and all this stuff, wool stuff. And you don't have to pay any money, so I'm going to send you two hundred dollars back." So Myrtle got the money order for me to send her the money back, and I joined the Cadet Corps. And then the first time I came home in this uniform--and you'll see it in my book of pictures, of me in my cadet uniform--they were all so proud, even though she thought I was still in the Army because it was a uniform. And I said, "No, all I gotta do is, to be sure that I work two years after I finish." So the Army Nurse Cadet Corps came about in I guess in 1942 and it ended in '48 [1948] or '49 [1949]. But it was an opportunity, there was a shortage of nursing at that time, and because of the war, the government put up the money to train. And at that time it was called nurses' training, now it's nurses' education. But then we called it training, because we went to school but then we actually trained in the hospital where you took care of patients from the time you got there, pretty much.

Mary "Betty" Brown

Civic leader, newspaper columnist, and nurse Mary Elizabeth “Betty” Brown has been a steady and stylish presence in Chicago and in Elgin, Illinois for more than thirty-five years. From her column, "Steppin Out with Betty Brown” in the Elgin Courier to serving as the first black nurse at Saint Joseph's Hospital in Joliet, Illinois, Brown has always been a trailblazer.

Born in Chicago, but raised in Schaumburg, Illinois on the estate of her father's employer, Brown and her two brothers had to learn to play quietly because the employer did not know his chauffeur's children lived in his coach house. Brown's mother also worked as the family cook, and after saving enough money, Thermon and Margaret Stephens moved their children to Elgin, Illinois. A multi-talented student of voice and dance, Brown was well known at her church, St. James AME Church, Wing Elementary and Elgin High School, but her mother discouraged her from pursuing singing.

Brown’s mother was a nurse's aide at Sherman Hospital and Brown decided to apply to the nursing program there, but she was promptly rejected. Disheartened, Brown approached St. Joseph's Hospital and became the first black nursing student in Joliet, Illinois. Not long after graduating, she married her sweetheart, Floyd Brown, who was just beginning to make a name for himself in Chicago radio. Brown served as a wardrobe and makeup consultant to Miss Illinois in the Miss America pageant for four years. She was named one of the One Hundred Women of Destiny selected by Marilyn Miglin & Associates. Brown received numerous awards for her civic work, including HI CHIC Award in Fashion, the Altrusa Outstanding Woman of the Year, Outstanding Woman in Advertising and the YMCA Margaret Henry Award.

Brown and her husband, Floyd Brown, live in Elgin, Illinois. They have two children and several grandchildren. Their son, F. Keith Brown, was the first black judge in the Northwestern Illinois suburbs. Their daughter, Diane Douglas, works in human resources.

Mary "Betty" Brown was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 26, 2006.

Accession Number

A2006.008

Sex

Female

Interview Date

1/26/2006

Last Name

Brown

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Schools

Elgin High School

Abby C. Wing School

St. Joseph Hospital School Of Nursing

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Mary "Betty"

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

BRO35

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Italy, Paris, France, Switzerland

Favorite Quote

Ye Know Not When The Son Of Man Is Coming, And I'm Ready.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

3/7/1932

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Trout, Vegetables

Short Description

Civic leader, newspaper columnist, and nurse Mary "Betty" Brown (1932 - ) is a noted style maven in Chicago, serving as a wardrobe and makeup consultant to Miss Illinois in the Miss America pageant for four years. She was also named one of the One Hundred Women of Destiny selected by Marilyn Miglin & Associates.

Employment

St. Joseph's Hospital

Sherman Hospital

NorthShore Magazine

Elgin Courier News

State of Illinois Department of Nursing

Favorite Color

Jewel Tones, Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Mary "Betty" Brown's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Mary "Betty" Brown lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes where she was born

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Mary "Betty Brown describes her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes her parents' family backgrounds

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes her early childhood memories

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes her experiences at Abby C. Wing School

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes her sibling rivalry with her brothers

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes Elgin High School

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Mary "Betty" Stephens describes her childhood career aspirations

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes her experiences at Elgin High School

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Mary "Betty" Brown recounts the beginning of her nursing career

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes Elgin, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Mary "Betty" Brown recalls her nursing experiences at Saint Joseph Hospital

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes her training as a nurse

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Mary "Betty" Brown recalls treating tuberculosis patients as a nurse

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Mary "Betty" Brown recounts meeting her husband, Floyd Brown

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Mary "Betty" Brown recalls visiting family in Chicago, Illinois

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes living on the estate of her father's employer

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes her and her husband's occupations

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Mary "Betty" Brown recalls marrying Floyd Brown and the birth of her son

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes her children

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes her volunteer activities

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes her private duty nursing and civil rights activities

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes her experiences with racism

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes her and her husband's careers

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Mary "Betty" Brown recalls her activities after her children left for college

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Mary "Betty" Brown recalls being a stylist for the Miss Illinois and Miss America pageants

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes her fashion sense and extravagant wardrobe

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Mary "Betty" Brown remembers teaching etiquette classes

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes being a member of One Hundred Women of Destiny

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Mary "Betty" Brown recalls her work for the Illinois Department of Public Health

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes being a society columnist

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes being a member of the Fashion Group International

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Mary "Betty" Brown explains why she chose to live in Elgin, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Mary "Betty" Brown talks about establishing her own identity

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Mary "Betty" Brown details learning how to iron from her mother

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes her children's musical talents

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes her son's cooking

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes her grandchildren

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Mary "Betty" Brown reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes her close-knit community in Elgin, Illinois

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Mary "Betty" Brown talks about travelling with her husband and continuing her column

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Mary "Betty" Brown remembers her mother and grandmother

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$3

DAStory

13$5

DATitle
Mary "Betty" Brown recounts the beginning of her nursing career
Mary "Betty" Brown describes her fashion sense and extravagant wardrobe
Transcript
Nineteen fifty-one [1951] you graduated [from Elgin High School, Elgin, Illinois], you decide that you want to pursue nursing?$$Well, I wanted to. I worked at the hospital there. My mother [Margaret Brown Stephens] was a nurse's aide by then at Sherman Hospital [Elgin, Illinois], and so naturally she said that I could work there for the summer. She'd let me--find me a job although they only had two blacks in the whole hospital working as aides.$$Now, where is this Sherman--?$$Because Sherman Hospital is in Elgin [Illinois] because they were prejudice, and somehow my mother got the job and she worked in central service, and that's where I worked and I thought, well that's a good job for me because I'll be going into nurse's training. And so I worked there that summer and then I wanted to pursue nurse's training, so I went to the, the director of nurses and told her I wanted to come in to nurse's training because they had a school of nursing there. And she said to me, "I'm sorry that you couldn't pursue that because nobody would like you to give them the bed pan." And so that's when it--prejudice really slapped me in the face because there were Spanish people working there. In fact, there was one Spanish girl that worked in central service with me that was the same color as me, and she could just barely speak English and they took her in.$$So--$$So, that was the big hurt that I felt that I really realized that, "Oh, my. There is a difference." And the other thing I realized that I wanted to get a job at Woolworth's [F.W. Woolworth Company] and they would not have blacks work there also. So--$$So could you shop there?$$Oh yeah, we could shop there, and you could eat at the fountain.$$But you couldn't work there?$$Work there, no.$$'Cause that's an interesting flip.$$Very interesting. But my mother had a friend who worked for the mother head of Saint Joseph's Hospital [Saint Joseph Hospital; Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center] in Joliet [Illinois], the mother superior, and so her friend said, "I'll intercede for you," and her name was Sister Priscilla [ph.], "And maybe Sister Priscilla would take you in," 'cause she was very fond of this lady who worked for her. And so she did intercede for me and Sister Priscilla said that she would interview me. And I went for my interview and she was a very strict woman, very--. I, I liked her though from the beginning and she said, "Ms. Stephens [HistoryMaker Mary "Betty" Brown], I will treat you no better and no worse than any other student," and I was her first black student at Saint Joseph Hospital in Joliet.$$What year was that?$$That was 1951 'cause I went right in.$--But I would be the wardrober and meanwhile while I wardrobed the Miss Illinois pageant, I got to meet all the designers in, in Ill--Chicago [Illinois], the top ten designers. Of course, they all want to--just like with being the president's wife, everybody wants to wardrobe somebody who's famous and say, "That's my dress." And so she had quite a wardrobe and all the Miss America contestants from Illinois had fabulous clothes and wardrobes, and they had cars that--they didn't give them to them, but they had free use of that--those cars, and cleaning bills--everything.$$Right, right. So this (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) So I got to meet all the designers and so I figured if they're designing from them, they ought to design for me (laughter).$$(Laughter) That's right.$$And when I went to Atlantic City [New Jersey], they all laughed. They'd say, "Boy, you look as good as the Miss America ladies" (laughter).$$Like, "Of course. Why shouldn't I."$$It, it, it was a good lesson and it, it, it exposed me to a whole different group of people and fashion, but I will say that I had an aunt--and she's still living--she's ninety-six years old and she lives in Harlem [New York, New York] and she's lived there all her life. And of course, I have to tell you about Harlem afterwards, and she worked for Mollie Parnis who wardrobed all the presidents' wives. And so I had these gorgeous clothes because if somebody didn't like them, they just threw it away. That's how extravagant the whole field--it's like food, they throw it away. Our country throws away things. And so my aunt would send me these beautiful clothes and little did I realize and one day I'm looking in the back of one of my dresses and I--and I was reading a magazine. I said to my husband, "Mollie Parnis?" I said, "That's what I wear," and Floyd [Floyd Brown] says, "Oh, you don't wear Mollie Parnis." (Laughter) And there it was, and the lady that wore the same size as me was Mrs. Lyndon Baines Johnson.$$Oh, Lady Bird [Lady Bird Johnson].$$Lady Bird, and so he [President Lyndon Baines Johnson] didn't like anything 'cause he would come there and help pick her clothes and he would reject everything, so everything he rejected, my aunt would pick it up and she'd send it to me.$$(Laughter) That is too funny.$$So when I was a young woman, I had these five thousand dollar gowns and things. I didn't have that kind of money, but I had those gowns. In fact, they used to say that, "No wonder poor Floyd works so hard, his wife is in those thousand dollar gowns," (laughter).$$She's running him ragged (laughter).$$Yeah. And then I really became very friendly with a lot of the designers here in the city and they were very nice to me. Lots of times they would just like to--I paid for them, but maybe not the cost that most people would but they would--if I was going to something, they would make sure I had on their gown.$$Like who, who were some of those designers?$$Oh, the one that's--Yolanda [Yolanda Lorente] who is--has a showroom in the Bloomingdale Building [Chicago, Illinois] on the fifth floor. She designs most of my things now.$$Really? Now who designed this outfit that you're wearing today?$$Oh, this was just off the rack. I have a sense of style and color though. I just know clothes because if you're around them, it doesn't have to be expensive. I keep telling people that. You just have to look a lot (laughter).$$This is very true.$$Thank you.

Renee J. Amoore

Health care advocate Renee J. Amoore was born on January 24, 1953 in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania to Juanita Ramsey, a domestic worker and nurse, and John Ramsey, a school bus driver. Amoore has earned a reputation for her innovative approaches to treating mental illness and other disorders.

Amoore (then Ramsey) was trained at the Harlem School of Nursing and served as head emergency room nurse at New York's Harlem Hospital. While working as evening and night program coordinator at the Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic, Amoore earned a bachelor's degree at Antioch College in 1979. Antioch University granted her a master's degree in administration in 1982. By that time, Amoore was already working as a supervisor of Wordsworth Academy's hospital program in Pennsylvania. In 1986, the Philadelphia Center for Developmental Services, Inc. hired her as a program director. Growth Horizons, Inc., an organization running group homes for people with mental illness and substance abuse problems, employed Amoore in 1988 where she worked until 1996, becoming its vice president and chief operating officer.

In 1995, Renee Amoore founded a health care management and consulting firm called the Amoore Group in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. The company includes Amoore Health Systems, Inc., a local service provider and health care consultant; 521 Management Group, Inc., a public relations and governmental liaison business; and Ramsey Educational and Development Institute, Inc., which provides programs focusing on job creation and workplace diversity. Amoore's political connections serve her well. In 1992, she was elected to Pennsylvania's Republican State Committee and became the deputy chair in 1996.

Amoore has taught as an adjunct professor at Drexel University, Antioch University and Lincoln University. Her civic commitments include membership in the NAACP, the American Legion Auxiliary and the African American Museum of Philadelphia's Advisory Board. She serves as a deacon at Saints Memorial Baptist Church and a guest host on a WHAT-AM community talk show. Honors Amoore has received include the Artemis Award from the Euro-American Women's Council in Greece, the Evelyn McPhail Award for Republican Activist of the Year, the NAACP Award for Community Services in Education and the Madam C.J. Walker Award from the Coalition of 100 Black Women. She and her husband, Joseph Amoore, have one daughter, Cherie.

Renee J. Amoore was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 10, 2002.

Accession Number

A2002.179

Sex

Female

Archival Photo 1
Interview Date

9/10/2002

Last Name

Amoore

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

J.

Organizations
Schools

Haverford High School

Coopertown El Sch

Speakers Bureau

Yes

Archival Photo 2
Speakers Bureau Availability

Depends on Schedule

First Name

Renee`

Birth City, State, Country

Bryn Mawr

HM ID

AMO01

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

Whatever she qualifies for.

Favorite Season

Winter

Speaker Bureau Notes

Preferred Audience: Whatever she qualifies for.

Sponsor

Knight Foundation

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

Jamaica

Favorite Quote

Cut Through The Chase. What's The Bottom Line?

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Pennsylvania

Birth Date

1/24/1953

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Philadelphia

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Potato Chips

Short Description

Chief executive officer, healthcare executive, and nurse Renee J. Amoore (1953 - ) is a home health care entrepreneur and has served as the vice chair of the Republican Party of Pennsylvania.

Employment

Wordsworth Academy

Philadelphia Center for Developmental Services

Growth Horizons

Amoore Group

Republican Party of Pennsylvania

Drexel University

Antioch College

Lincoln University

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Renee Amoore's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Renee Amoore lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Renee Amoore talks about her family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Renee Amoore talks about her mother, Juanita Ramsey

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Renee Amoore describes her father, John Ramsey

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Renee Amoore describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Renee Amoore describes her childhood home

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Renee Amoore talks about an experience with racial discrimination in middle school that led to changes in the school

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Renee Amoore talks about her grades

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Renee Amoore talks about her childhood activities

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Renee Amoore talks about the demographics of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Renee Amoore describes her experience at Haverford High School

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Renee Amoore talks about her mentors and activities at Saints Memorial Baptist Church in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Renee Amoore talks about high school gang activity

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Renee Amoore talks about her high school band and its covers of songs by Aretha Franklin and Dionne Warwick

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Renee Amoore talks about applying to nursing school

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Renee Amoore describes her first day in Harlem, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Renee Amoore describes learning about the black experience as a student in Harlem, New York

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Renee Amoore talks about becoming accepted by other students at Harlem Hospital

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Renee Amoore describes her hands-on experience at Harlem Hospital

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Renee Amoore describes learning about discipline as a student nurse at Harlem Hospital

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Renee Amoore talks about an influential teacher at Harlem Hospital, Ms. Renee Johnson

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Renee Amoore describes the positive aspects of Harlem

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Renee Amoore talks about working as a nurse in the South Bronx

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Renee Amoore describes her career as a nurse

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Renee Amoore talks about the founding of Amoore Health Systems, Inc., 521 Management Group, and the Ramsey Educational Development Institute (REDI)

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Renee Amoore describes the different arms of the Amoore Group, Inc.

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Renee Amoore talks about the Amoore Group's work in South Africa

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Renee Amoore describes her decision to run for the school board director in Upper Merion Township in Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Renee Amoore talks about running for the school board in Upper Merion Township in Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Renee Amoore talks about her transition from local to state to national political levels

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Renee Amoore talks about her role in the 2000 Republican National Convention

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Renee Amoore describes important Republican issues

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Renee Amoore talks about other black Republicans including HistoryMaker General Colin L. Powell, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and Condoleeza Rice

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Renee Amoore talks about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Renee Amoore discusses reparations

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Renee Amoore talks about President Bill Clinton

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Renee Amoore talks about Mayor John Street's administration in Philadelphia Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Renee Amoore describes working on Tom Ridge's gubernatorial campaign

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Renee Amoore talks about Tom Ridge and the Department of Homeland Security

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Renee Amoore describes her hopes and concerns for the African American Community

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Renee Amoore contemplates running for public office

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Renee Amoore reflects on her mother's pride in her

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Renee Amoore reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Renee Amoore talks about how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Renee Amoore narrates her photographs, pt.1

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Renee Amoore narrates her photographs, pt.2

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Renee Amoore narrates her photographs, pt.3

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$3

DAStory

11$5

DATitle
Renee Amoore talks about the founding of Amoore Health Systems, Inc., 521 Management Group, and the Ramsey Educational Development Institute (REDI)
Renee Amoore talks about her transition from local to state to national political levels
Transcript
So, you start out--you started a company [Amoore Health Systems, Inc.] just to, with yourself as your only employee?$$Um-hum, absolutely. I just was gonna do managed health care, go and consult, teach people how to set up managed health care 'cause that was like the big buzz word, you know, six or seven years ago, how to do it, we can help you with your billing or I can come in and train your group on diversity, you know, or I could, you know, train your group on universal precautions, you know, all these little things that different group homes in particular wanted or different agencies. So, that's where we were and then we were called, like I said, by the state [Pennsylvania] about the ex-offenders program because they knew of my background. We were called from labor and industry about working with people with disabilities and then just things started moving, so we went with one staff and now we're up to 100 staff and we have about eight or nine different offices and we're also in South Africa. We'll be duping this in South Africa.$$I'm sorry now when did you come back to Pennsylvania--(unclear)--$$In--when I was in Cha,--(unclear)-- Guidance. That was probably '74 [1974], '75 [1975], probably like in the mid, late '70s [1970s].$$Okay, okay, but you didn't start the business until about--(simultaneous)--$$Nineteen-ninety--you know we start, yeah, the six or seven years. We started about--Amoore Health Systems was a shell for about a year. Late Decem--November 1996 we actually had our first, you know, client. You know, it was just still me, myself, and I, and so in '96 [1996] we had Amoore Health Systems. In '97 [1997], we started 521 Management Group, which is our PR government relations firm which in Pennsylvania we're the only certified African American lobbyist in the state, which we're really proud about. That means we're registered, you know, we have other lobbyists those type of things. We have offices in Washington, D.C. and in Harrisburg [Pennsylvania]. We lobby internationally and nationally and also local and state. And then in 1998, we started REDI, Ramsey Educational Developmental Institute, which is our not-for-profit for children services and adult services where we train welfare-to-work recipients, dislocated workers, but we also have a children's program where we go in the home and actually do home-based programming and it's something I came up with because a lot of folks that have children that are sick can't get out the house also. So, we actually bring in PTs [physical therapists] and OTs [occupational therapists], speech therapists and we actually do the work in the home for them, which was a pilot program that the county asked us to come up with something for kids with early intervention from birth to three. And so we came up with this innovative really good program and they said you can only have about 50 kids and we have about 175 children in that program now from birth to three and a waiting list. It's an amazing program. A lot of kids that have autism, behavioral health problems and you kind of sit there and say how can kids from birth to three have all these issues, but they do.$While I was on the school board, the Republican Party came to me and said we have no blacks in this area state committee, will you run for state committee? I ran for state committee and won. State committee as you know probably is that you're, you're on the state level now, so I'm going all of a sudden from local to state politics, which was a whole different thing and real challenging because when you're always the first black you have this stuff on your shoulder that you gotta carry everything and everybody's issues. And you have to be so careful with that. You know you have to learn how to balance and juggle those things. I mean, when I was on the school board we actually had to get two lines because we would get so many complaints especially from people of color, you know, about how their kids were being treated and blah, blah, blah, and it kind of went all over the southeastern region that I was the first black on the school board, so other school boards were calling too. So, I was going out and speaking to other school boards, and then I was also chairing the Vutek (ph.) board and also the IU, which is working with kids with disabilities in the school district. So, it was really a lot, an awesome position and a lot of work, you know, and I think I was out probably six days a week between meetings and things like that, and our meetings would go to 1 and 2 in the morning you know, fighting about different issues. But, I learned a lot and it really helped me to be strong so that when I was on the state level I became a committee person. You were called a committee person and you represent your area. Again, I represented this area Montgomery County. When I went there, I was very upset 'cause when I looked up on the dais there was no African Americans or no one of color. I said this is ridiculous. This is why they call the Republican Party mean-spirited. This is why they call the Republican Party white men, bald-headed white men, you know, rich people, that kind of stuff. We have to have some more diversity. For a year and a half I just fought about that, talked about that, and then they were like well if you're that interested, you know, oh what do you want to run for? I said I'll be the deputy chair of the party, second-in-ommand. I didn't want to go for the chair that looked a little, you know, and I still had to learn a lot. I was appointed to deputy chair within two years of being in the Republican Party. So, people know me now on the state level. So, at this point I'm on the state level, which spun into the national level because again you don't have blacks in leadership in our party. So, as your building that you can see how your business can build too 'cause your developing relationships, you're meeting people, you're meeting business people. That's why it's important to use those relationships in a positive way and, and that's why I think we've built, we've grown. And I know I've taken you a long way to explain, but I think it's important for people to know we have to use those things in a positive way and you also cross the line, we cross the line. It doesn't matter if you're R or D [Republican or Democrat]; it's about business. You know, it's about a seat at the table, so we make a lot of policy decisions in this state and that's how people know me. We make a lot of decisions now nationally because since the Republican [National] Convention. You know, again I never thought that I would have an audience with the Bushes or Barbara Bush would introduce me, you know, at an event, those type of things, or make comments or meet Laura Bush or do those things and be able to go to a State Dinner. I'm like oh my God, and you know I can't believe this is me. Today, I spoke with a group of 150 women in Chester County. There was a line for a half an hour for autographs or whatever. I'm saying it's just Renee Amoore, what's the big deal. But when you think about it, it's somebody that has crossed some racial barriers, somebody that has crossed party barriers, and then I started seeing what people are hearing and seeing from me. So, whatever I can do to put that information and insight out and mentor to people. That's what I'm going to continue to do.

Gloria Rookard

Gloria Mae Rookard, a native of Akron, Ohio, was born on January 3, 1932 to Maurine and Claude Shuler. The second of nine children, Rookard helped care for her siblings and grew up to become a nurse who cared deeply for patients and those in need. She has been active in seeking equal access to health care for all Americans.

Rookard (then Shuler) married Howard Rookard in 1952. That same year, she became a registered nurse and began working at Akron General Hospital, where she eventually was promoted to head nurse. Rookard acted as the clinic coordinator for the Migrand Health Clinic from 1968 to 1969, when she became the manager of ancillary services for a local organization called Visiting Nurse. In 1971, she was invited to help found the National Black Nurses' Association. Serving as the first membership chairwoman, she caused the organization to grow significantly. Having pursued business classes at the University of Akron, she also served as a treasurer. She began working for Headstart as a clinic coordinator in 1974. Earning a P.N.A. from Cincinnati University, she became a certified pediatric nurse practitioner. In 1982, she founded Universal Nursing Services, Inc. and still serves as their president and C.E.O.

Rookard has served as president of the Ohio Pediatric Nurses' Association and managing editor and invited founder of the Contemporary Nurses' Educational Foundation. She has also served as board member for the American Diabetic Society, the Fallsview Psychiatric Hospital and Goals for Greater Akron. President Carter designated her as a Presidential Appointee on the American Family. The NAACP and Wesley Temple A.M.E. church have also benefited from her membership. She and her husband have five children-Howard, Douglas, David, Derrick and Deanna.

Accession Number

A2002.132

Sex

Female

Interview Date

8/2/2002

Last Name

Rookard

Maker Category
Organizations
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Any

First Name

Gloria

Birth City, State, Country

Akron

HM ID

ROO01

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Only if travel is required - Negotiable

Favorite Season

Fall, Spring

State

Ohio

Favorite Vacation Destination

New York, New York

Favorite Quote

Would Some Power The Gift To Give Us, To See Ourselves As Others See Us.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Ohio

Birth Date

1/3/1932

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Akron

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Greens, Fried Chicken, Potato Salad

Short Description

Nurse and chief executive officer Gloria Rookard (1932 - ) served as co-founder and treasurer of the National Black Nurses Association. She later founded Universal Nursing Services.

Employment

Akron General Medical Center

Migrand Health Clinic

Delete

Universal Nursing Services, Inc.

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Gloria Rookard's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Gloria Rookard lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Gloria Rookard describe her parents, Maurine and Claude Shuler

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Gloria Rookard describes her maternal and paternal family history during slavery and Reconstruction

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Gloria Rookard talks about the discrimination she faced when she applied to nursing school

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Gloria Rookard describes her father's and mother's siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Gloria Rookard describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Gloria Rookard describes herself as a child at Robinson Elementary School in Akron, Ohio

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Gloria Rookard talks about attending nursing school at People's Hospital in Akron, Ohio, in 1950 to 1952

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Gloria Rookard talks about her mentors growing up, including her neighbor, Ruth Johnson

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Gloria Rookard describes her siblings and her siblings' children

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Gloria Rookard talks about being one of the first four black students at nursing school at People's Hospital in Akron, Ohio in 1950

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Gloria Rookard talks about meeting her husband, Howard Rookard, in 1952

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Gloria Rookard talks about dating her husband, Howard Rookard, as a nursing student at People's Hospital in Akron, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Gloria Rookard describes eloping with her husband, Howard Rookard, in 1952

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Gloria Rookard describes the intense training she received at nursing school at People's Hospital in Akron, Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Gloria Rookard describes women's expected occupations growing up in the 1940s and 1950s

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Gloria Rookard talks about working in different nursing departments at Akron General Hospital in Ohio from 1952 to 1968

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Gloria Rookard describes her entrance into public health nursing working with migrant workers in Ohio in 1968

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Gloria Rookard remembers her handling of a public health concern in Ohio

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Gloria Rookard describes women's public health concerns while working at Migrant Health in 1968

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Gloria Rookard talks about treating the children of the migrant workers in Ohio during 1968 and 1969

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Gloria Rookard talks about working for Planned Parenthood and then the Head Start Program in 1974

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Gloria Rookard talks about working with her former roommate at People's Hospital in Akron, Ohio, Betty Jo Davidson, at Akron's public health department

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Gloria Rookard talks about being a working mother

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Gloria Rookard describes working at Visiting Nurse Service from 1969 to 1974 and then Head Start from 1974 to 1979

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Gloria Rookard talks about founding the Universal Nursing Service in 1982

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Gloria Rookard describes her work as president of Universal Nursing Service

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Gloria Rookard talks about the health concerns affecting the black community

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Gloria Rookard talks about the rewards of and future plans for Universal Nursing Service

DASession

1$1

DATape

1$2

DAStory

9$7

DATitle
Gloria Rookard talks about attending nursing school at People's Hospital in Akron, Ohio, in 1950 to 1952
Gloria Rookard remembers her handling of a public health concern in Ohio
Transcript
So anyhow, he was like my mentor because he called [Akron] City Hospital [now Summa Akron City Hospital, Ohio] and got me the application. And that's when I got turned the first time. The second time--what, and after I got turned down, then he called Akron General which is not Akron General [Medical Center, Akron, Ohio]. It was People's [Hospital, Akron, Ohio] at the time and they accepted me, you know [1950-1952]. But to do all of that, the Urban League here had been very proactive, and once I had passed the exam and had the--everything going, you know, that looked like I was going to be accepted. Then they evidently interceded and talked to the director of nursing over at Akron General [Hospital, Ohio]. And she told them that their, their situation was that they had two rooms and a bath in between, so there and there were four students to the two rooms, so two apiece and the bath. And what they were looking for was either three more students of color or seven more so that we would have a support system because her orientation was that students who had a support system did better than students who would be solo. And she didn't want me there as a solo. So what happened, they did more testing, I understand, in Akron [Ohio], and apparently, didn't find anybody else that they considered worthy to go. But what happened then in Aug-, the end of August, school was going to start in September, they found this one other person who became my roommate, Jean Felton. Her--she's Felton now but she was Jean Nichols (ph.) at the time--was living with a, in a foster situation. Brilliant woman, and she and I became roommates, and that how I got--so what she, what the director did there, she found one room that had the two beds but a private bath. And that's where she put us up until the following year when they found two more students. And then the four of us became roommates which was almost a disaster (laughter) 'cause we had such a great time, you know. All became lifelong friends.$$Okay. And these were all black students (unclear) (simultaneous)?$$Yes, uh-hum. And they never invited us to--belong to the alumni over there until years later. They wouldn't allow us to belong but that was okay, you know, because by that time, I think we were all grounded. And we all had our own self-worth and image, you know, how you do that. And, but it was kind of strange because some of the things that they accused me of was number one, I was supposedly arrogant and insolent, and I didn't even know what the words meant, you know. And there was a couple of the, the white nurses that really rankled at my being there. And it was, it was sort of hellish at one point. But the evaluations that I kept receiving were always outstanding, so they could never find a real reason, you know. And they always mixed the two of us up. They called me Miss Nichols and Jean, Miss Shuler. And it was kind of funny because we were, were direct opposites. Jean's tall and really nice and brilliant and quiet. And I'm short yellow and and mouthy (laughter) and, and it was kind of a real kind of disparity, you know, so-$We had--well, there's story after story after story, you know. The one thing that intrigued me most was the, the venereal disease problem. I thought I knew textbook-wise what we were dealing with, right? But I mean it had never been demonstrated to me, just, you know, just how loose people could be with their morals, you know. And because they--their, their system and their standards were totally different than we had been taught. So anyway, this one Monday morning, I walked in and then outside of the door, there were eight guys waiting on me. And I thought, well now, what do I owe the privilege of having all you young guys out here standing up waiting on the nurse? Well, "Can we come in?" "Yeah, you can come on in, come on in." "We ran train on Mary Jane and the third man in got burnt."$$The third man?$$(Laughter) First off, (gesture) right over my head it went. I had no idea what they were talking about. So I said, "You have to explain this to me." "(Laughter) That's a dumb nurse." (Laughter) So, the, this one guy said, "Don't laugh at her. Let's tell her what's, what's going on," and he did, you know. And I thought, oh, my word, ooh, you know. Never heard of it, I had never heard the expression before in my entire life. I was dumbfounded. So anyway, I didn't have any penicillin to give them, so I called the health department in Canton [Ohio], which was the closest major town, and told the public health director there that, you know, we had a problem. And I wanted to send these guys in for treatment, or whatever he did--they deemed was necessary. He told me, "Don't send them there." Okay. "Now let me ask you a question: do you want these eight guys all though Starke County [Ohio] spreading their third man in," (laughter) "to the rest of the population?" And he said, "Ms. Shuler," no, "Mrs. Rookard," he said, "don't send them here." Okay. So I got on the phone and I called Columbus [Ohio], and I told them what the dilemma was. Well, they got on the phone and they called him and told him that they were to be treated. So they got into the vehicle and they all went down and were treated, you know. That was one fight. Another fight that I had was this one girl who was--$$Oh, did they find Mary Jane, too (laughter)?$$Well, they, they never told me who Mary Jane was. And I really didn't want to know, but, you know, public health wise, I needed to know. They said they'd take care of it because evidently Mary Jane was a teenager and she was with her parents, and they didn't want her parents to know what Mary Jane's weekend activity was. So evidently they took care of it 'cause I asked her one day and she, she looked at me (makes sound) like that, and kept right on walking. See, so, okay.

Betty Gross

Betty Gross was born on October 24, 1914, in Rock Island, Illinois. She was one of seven children born to a homemaker mother and a father who worked as a plasterer. She graduated from Canton High School in Canton, Illinois, in 1933. Following graduation, Gross followed her older sister Catherine, who worked in Chicago's Provident Hospital, into the nursing profession.

From 1940 until 1942, Gross worked as staff nurse at Provident Hospital. In 1942, she took a break to continue her education at Howard University in Washington, D.C. She received her degree from Howard University in sociology with a minor in psychology in 1946. In 1951, she received her B.S. in nursing from Loyola University and in 1957, earned an M.S. from DePaul University.

For thirty-one years at Provident Hospital, she worked her way up from staff nurse to the director of Nursing and Nursing Education. During her long career, Gross helped establish two allergy clinics, one at Provident and the other at Howard University's Freedmen Hospital. In 1977, she left Provident and became a lecturer at Chicago State University.

Gross served eight years as a member of the Illinois Nurses Association Board of Directors. She has been a member of Zonta International since 1968, and a member of the Alpha Gamma Pi Honorary Sorority since 1964. Gross passed away in 2005.

Accession Number

A2002.101

Sex

Female

Interview Date

7/15/2002

Last Name

Gross

Middle Name

W.

Organizations
Schools

Canton High School

Provident Hospital School of Nursing

Loyola University Chicago

DePaul University

First Name

Betty

Birth City, State, Country

Rock Island

HM ID

GRO01

Favorite Season

All Seasons

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Cruises

Favorite Quote

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

10/24/1914

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Greens

Death Date

5/16/2005

Short Description

Nursing education administrator and nurse Betty Gross (1914 - 2005 ) was the former director of the Provident Hospital School of Nursing in Chicago, Illinois. During her long career, Gross helped establish two allergy clinics, one at Provident and the other at Howard University's Freedmen Hospital. In 1977, she left Provident and became a lecturer at Chicago State University.

Employment

Provident Hospital

Chicago State University

Favorite Color

Black

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Betty Gross interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Betty Gross's favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Betty Gross talks about her father's background, part 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Betty Gross talks about her father's background, part 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Betty Gross talks about her mother's background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Betty Gross discusses her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Betty Gross remembers her childhood home and community, part 1

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Betty Gross remembers her childhood home and community, part 2

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Betty Gross recalls past school teachers

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Betty Gross explains her early interest in nursing

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Betty Gross tells of Provident Hospital's history

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Betty Gross gives an overview of her training at nursing school

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Betty Gross talks about her transition from Provident Hospital to Howard University

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Betty Gross explains meeting and marrying her husband

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Betty Gross talks about her religious participation

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Betty Gross details her successes as Director of Nursing at Provident Hospital

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Betty Gross shares her encounters with racism in the medical field

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Betty Gross describes the support she received from the employees of Provident Hospital

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Betty Gross explains Provident Hospital's significance in the black community

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Betty Gross remembers members of the Provident Hospital Nursing School Committee

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Betty Gross discusses some of her famous patients at Provident Hospital

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Betty Gross talks about black patrons visiting Provident Hospital

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Betty Gross remembers physicians from Provident Hospital, part 1

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Betty Gross recalls organizations she's been affilliated with, part 1

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Betty Gross remembers physicians from Provident Hospital, part 2

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Betty Gross recalls organizations she's been affilliated with, part 2

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Betty Gross talks about Provident Hospital's emergency room

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Betty Gross comments on the current state of the medical industry

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Betty Gross talks about her public image as a nurse

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Betty Gross remembers a compliment from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Betty Gross shares thoughts on integrated and segregated hospitals

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Betty Gross explains how she was a trendsetter in the nursing field

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - How Betty Gross would like to be remembered

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Betty Gross discusses her family's involvement in her ife