By Kris Leonhardt
With the evanescence of the St. Joseph’s School of Nursing and St. Joseph’s Hospital itself, little is left in the way of legacy for the nursing program. There is an organization, however, that holds tight to the program’s history and its importance in the Marshfield area.
The St. Joseph’s Hospital School of Nursing Alumni Association was established by the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother, in 1922. Upon graduation, the student officially became a member of the alumni association.
The following excerpt comes from the alumni association:
“’The aims of the association are to promote the professional growth of its members, to form a union of graduates for mutual protection and assistance, and to foster the interests and growth of the Alma Mater.’
This organization has remained active even though the school of nursing closed in 1988. The focus has grown over time. At present the goals include providing the community with the history of the school of nursing, celebrating the successes of the graduates, and encouraging mutual support and communication among the graduates.
The alumni association has an annual banquet in the month of June. The purpose of the banquet is to provide a meeting place for graduates, share nursing experiences, celebrate significant anniversaries of graduation, share any significant events related to the alumni, and provide a celebration of being together.
From 1914-1988, there were 2,499 graduates. At present the alumni association is following 1602 graduates. Our oldest member is 96 years old and our youngest member is 49 years of age.
We are still trying to locate members, because we do not have up-to-date addresses.
We keep records of our deceased graduates. When persons notify us of a graduate passing the graduate is included in that year’s memorial service.
The alumni president serves as a long-term leader. There have been a number of presidents, Kathleen (Stashek) Hasenohrl was president during the 1960s and at present is a committee member, Lois (Brockman) Kastern served 1984-2009; and the current president, Dorothy (Dottie) Thiel Liesen has served since 2009.
The long presidential terms facilitate long-term planning and consistency within the organization. In addition, there are 12 longstanding committee members who work with the president. At present, the organization would like to add two new members from the graduation classes of 1975-1988.
The organization is working on a historical project which financially has been supported by the alumni’s generous donations. The museum currently being constructed on the lower level of the 2nd Street Community Center will feature a display of memorabilia from the nursing program, pictures of the graduates, and other photos of nurses during their school experiences.
The alumni members feel strongly about preserving the history of the nursing school which has been such an integral part of the Marshfield community. It is anticipated that the museum display will be opened in June 2019.
Other services provided through the alumni are assisting people to obtain transcripts, finding classmates, and facilitating attendance at the banquet.”
For more information about the alumni or to donate items, contact Dr. Dorothy (Dottie) Liesen at 715-387-2439.
For Part I, click here.
For Part II, click here.