By Michael Emond
“I wanted to be a teacher early on, and played teacher with my siblings.” Said Mary recently, “I was all set to attend a local Vermont college, but while working my senior summer at Rutland Hospital, the nurses there persuaded me to go into nursing.” And so began her career.
She was admitted to the fall 1970 class at Albany Medical Center Nursing School with several of my high school friends. “This program was very difficult, and we spent many hours caring for all kinds of patients. I gravitated to the fast-paced area of critical care, and on graduating, I went to the cardio-vascular surgery department at Albany Medical.
“Of course it was not all work.” She continued, “ I met my husband, Dean Nairn at a local church college group during my freshman year while he was attending RPI majoring in math.” They were married a year after Mary graduated from the nursing school. Dean continued to work on his PhD.
Though Dean grew up in Ridgewood, NJ with only one brother, he took to Mary’s large family very well.
“We soon added two sons to the family and I continued school at Russell Sage College working towards by BA in nursing. I stayed home with the boys during those years helping in our church, learning to knit, volunteering at the boys’ nursery school, and working at Albany Med and the Troy Visiting Nurses Association once in a while. These were great years, making friends and being involved in our sons’ activities. I think I chaperoned all of the band trips for seven years as one of the nurses.”
Mary and her family moved to Delaware 25 years ago, but return to visit her family in West Pawlet and Rutland throughout the year.
“Camp nursing for six years in the Adirondacks instilled in us a love for those mountains. Our sons attended camp, hiked, canoed, and developed a love of the outdoors as we did. We still go back every year with friends to that beautiful area.
“Other activities we like are biking, skiing, reading and traveling. We visited Orkney, Scotland with my mother two summers ago and met many relatives. Our next trip is to the Mediterranean in the spring, but we will probably not be visiting Egypt.
“I team-teach Sunday school to junior high kids. It brings back nice memories of my early years in Hebron and West Pawlet churches.”
Mary currently works as a nurse practitioner at a veterans medical center. She worked in a primary care clinic for 15 years, and now is the Women Veterans Program Manager, helping women veterans and advocating for them. “We are seeing many young women returning from the war – Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom – and it is a privilege to help them.
“I enjoy what I am doing, and haven’t thought of retirement. Our sons married wonderful wives, and we see them often. Our first granddaughter arrived recently, and another is due in April, so we will see about retirement. We can’t get enough of the granddaughter. Skype helps .”
Dean continues to work at the University of Delaware as a computer consultant, using his math background.
Mary remembers several friends from her high school days. “I still keep in touch with Sandy Gulas Obermeyer, Susan Young Morehouse, Karen Rollwagon and Bambi Mason. Orchestra and Chorus were two of my favorite activities in high school. Mrs. Crawford and Mr. (Robert) Johnson encouraged my love of literature and history.”
Teachers who played a part in Mary’s love of violin and music were Mrs. Binns, Mr. Harris, and Mr. Blake.
“My education from Granville schools was just right, but I could have studied more. I remember spending many hours reading library books (I was in the library Club) and, along with getting to know several foreign exchange students, my world enlarged. This interest in learning about foreign places has led Dean and me to open our home to foreign students over the years. We have met students from all over the world and have kept in touch with a number of them. Currently we have a student from Iraq living with us, and it is interesting getting to know his culture and showing him ours.
“When I look back on my memories growing up in the Granville area, I would not change it for anything. Living on a farm with a large family was fine with me.”