very Monday night, the “Guardian Nightingales” gather
for dinner in the large dining room at Clairmont Place, the residential
community across from the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, a mile
from the School of Nursing of which all are alumni.
“Rose Dilday and I are only
honorary alumni,” explains Dr. Elizabeth Mabry. “We
didn’t graduate from this nursing school before we joined
the faculty, but I learned more at Emory than I ever did in my original
school!” The other three alumni—Edith Honeycutt, 39N,
04H, Betty Daniels, 51N, 67MN, and Patsy Getz 52N, 58MN—are
all past presidents of the Nurses Alumni Association.
Now in their 70s, 80s, and 90s, the
five spend days and many evenings with family and friends—and
fulfilling Georgia Nurses Association responsibilities, attending
advisory committee meetings to improve care at the assisted living
facility in their community, “acting” as geriatric patients
to help teach Emory medical students, volunteering at Emory’s
Center for Rehabilitation Medicine and the Winship Cancer Institute,
lecturing to Emory nursing students and assisting them with service-learning
projects, advising former nursing colleagues, teaching their Clairmont
Place neighbors how to take their own blood pressure or give their
own B12 shots, and providing emergency nursing care on occasion.
Their strong nursing backgrounds and organizational skills have
become a resource for their community as well as a continuing gift
to the nursing school. But no matter how busy they are, Monday nights
belong to the Guardian Nightingales.
NURSING SCHOOL ANNEX
of the first hematology/oncology nurses at Emory, Honeycutt is best
known as the nurse handpicked to care for members of four generations
of the Woodruff family and for her close relationship with Nell
Hodgson Woodruff, for whom the nursing school is named. Today, two
Emory nursing professors hold Edith F. Honeycutt Chairs in Nursing—the
only chair in the nation to honor a staff nurse. Retiring after
the death of Coca-Cola leader Robert W. Woodruff in 1985, Honeycutt
remained active in the life of the nursing school. When she moved
into her Clairmont Place condominium in 1993, she didn’t realize
she would be starting a small nursing school wing of her own.
Four years later, in 1997, Professor
Rose Dilday arrived. A faculty member from 1964 to 1984, Dilday
revolutionized the school’s new mental health and psychiatric
nursing program and established an impaired nurse program in Georgia
that quickly became a national model.
Daniels and Getz moved to Clairmont
Place in 2002, further entwining the connections with Emory and
raising the volume at the Monday night dinner table. (“The
other residents often tell us they wish they had a microphone to
know what we are laughing about,” says Daniels.) Daniels and
Getz were undergraduate nursing students together in the early 1950s,
taught by Mabry and in awe of the legendary Honeycutt. Later, Daniels
was one of the first students in the mental health master’s
program led by Dilday. After graduating as one of only 11 master’s-prepared
nurses in the field in Georgia, Daniels chose to remain at the Georgia
Mental Health Institute and teach nursing students at Emory and
in the diploma program at Crawford Long Hospital. She retired in
Getz became a faculty member when
she completed her master’s degree and taught in the adult
health program headed by Mabry. After teaching for several years,
Getz practiced nursing in orthopaedics and rheumatology and then
became a clinical nurse specialist in the the Center for Rehabilitation
Medicine and other Emory facilities.
During Getz’s last job—still
ongoing as a volunteer—as research coordinator with Wesley
Woods’ Center for Health in Aging, Clairmont Place let her
set up a gym to study the effect of testosterone and exercise on
muscle mass. Recalls Dilday, “When Patsy moved here in 2002,
all the men rushed up to hug her.”
The last to arrive, in 2003, was Mabry.
In 1948, Julia Miller, the first dean of Emory University School
of Nursing, hired Mabry sight unseen because of her then-rare science
training. With time out to follow her husband’s career and
complete her University of Georgia doctorate, Mabry taught until
1987. Her devoted former students recently established a School
of Nursing scholarship in her name.
With these five in residence, Clairmont
Place has never been the same. Some are board members, and four
of the five chair or work with committees in the organization. All
play hard, with
sizable representation in the Clairmont Crooners, Line Dancers,
and Lifeline Writer’s Group.
YEARS OF NURSING HISTORY
the alumni at Clairmont Place span almost 70 years of nursing school
history. Other colleagues and friends from the nursing school often
stop by for the famous Monday night dinners. Mary Gaskell Bieber
served on the faculty in the late 1940s. Harriet McDonald, 32N,
51N, 57MN, is a part-time resident, traveling between Atlanta and
Australia. Alumna Jennie Huckabee, 30N, has become too frail to
meet with her younger classmates, but the group keeps up with her
and monitors her health.
Perhaps because they have seen and
contributed to the legacy of the School of Nursing, the Guardian
Nightingales are enthusiastic about the school’s Centennial.
One way they continue to invest in the future is by partnering with
junior nursing students who come to Clairmont Place to conduct health
fairs for residents. The students also work with residents to conduct
a “risk for falls” assessment. Using an assessment tool
they developed, the students help residents identify and correct
safety hazards in their condos to prevent falls and injuries.
alumni really inspired our students,” says clinical instructor
Corrine Abraham. “Being able to work with such seasoned and
well-respected nurses, and then seeing how much the residents appreciated
the services they provided, gave the students a great deal of confidence
at this early stage in their own nursing careers.”
These luminary alumni are proud of
what the students and the nursing school have accomplished. The
sentiment goes both ways, according to Dean Marla Salmon. “The
school owes much to the legacy and continuing commitment of these
Wrobel is a frequent contributor to Emory’s health sciences