inPractice - Summer 2018 - 19

Mary Coldren Kurian

AN UNLIKELY
REUNION

Following graduation, Mary served as President of the school's
Alumni Association for nearly a year as she began her long
nursing career at Lancaster General Hospital. When Mary
decided to become a nurse anesthetist, LGH provided $30 per
month toward the costs of her program, which she completed
"I SAT HERE LAST NIGHT AND TRIED TO
in Detroit in 1942. During World War II, Mary registered with
REMEMBER ALL THE NAMES, BUT IT'S BEEN SUCH
the Red Cross as a volunteer nurse, but was never called upon to
A LONG TIME AND I DON'T HAVE MANY CHANCES
serve. However, she did recall that she and her fellow students
TO TALK ABOUT THOSE DAYS ANYMORE," explains
were sent to military recruitment centers to practice drawing
103-year-old Mary Coldren Kurian as
blood from the would-be servicemen.
she looked at a framed photograph of
Mary settled into family life and her
HER CLASS PHOTO IS BOTH
her 1936 Lancaster General Hospital
career, but following the death of her
School of Nursing graduation class.
husband James at age 37, she bought
A CHERISHED MEMENTO AND
Fortunately, a recent chance encounter
the house next door to her parents (and
A POWERFUL TOUCHSTONE
at Homestead Village, where Mary
just blocks from the hospital). The move
has lived since 1996, has helped to
made it easier for them to help this
FOR A LIFE IN NURSING
spark her memory, while forging
newly widowed working mother care for
a meaningful connection between
her two children. Mary retired from her
two women devoted to the nursing
nurse anesthetist role in 1980 and notes
profession. It's not difficult to imagine how much nursing
of her life-long local connection: "I was born at LGH, trained at
education and practice have changed since Mary entered the
LGH, spent my career at LGH, and retired from LGH. So don't
field. But when current three-year BSN student and Homestead
send me anywhere else."
Village employee Cassie Kohr met Mary, she was delighted to
learn of their shared experience. Since then, in moments here
Many decades have passed since Mary's student days, but it's
and there, and longer visits after dinner, Cassie and Mary have
clear that her class photo is both a cherished memento and a
swapped stories, marveling at all that is new, and all that's stayed
powerful touchstone for a life in nursing. And yet, she recently
the same.
believed it was gone for good. After learning that the photo
had been misplaced during a move,
While her family couldn't afford to send her off to a fourCassie was determined to help.
year college after high school, earning a spot in the nursing
She contacted our Office of
school turned Mary's life in a new and ultimately wonderful
Alumni Relations, obtained
direction. Once enrolled in the three-year program, Mary and
a copy and gave it to Mary
her classmates were expected to dive right in, with daily shifts
as a Christmas gift last
on the hospital floor. Classroom instruction was something the
year. Mary is thrilled to
young women were "excused" from duty to attend. "I'm from the
have her photo back in its
old school," shares Mary, and many of the stories she tells today
proper place, and to see
center around the strict expectations of her supervisors and
the legacy it represents
instructors. Mary's uniform, made by her mother, was a striped
carried on by Cassie, in
dress with a starched apron. White starched cuffs that rose to
both her compassionate
her elbows had to be removed each morning by 10 a.m. before
care and her ability to fold
bathing patients. Each day, the students had to carefully prepare
and rotate Mary's linens "just
their own bandages from large bolts of gauze, and they learned to so." "I'm fussy about things,"
store linens and make up patient beds "just so" (the open end of a explains Mary, "but Cassie always
pillowcase must always face away from the doorway).
takes care of me."
19 inPractice | SUMMER 2018



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