Tomah Health Hospice Touch resident Mary Donaldson could not believe that she was being honored for being a nurse. Members of the Northern Wisconsin Nurses’ Honor Guard recognized the 74-year-old Donaldson for her 40- year career in nursing during a ceremony at the Tomah Hospice Serenity House March 29.
It was the first ever “living tribute” for the honor guard. “So often, nurses aren’t really recognized for the impact they had during their chosen career,” said Honor Guard Director Kelly Gronli, RN. “We feel this event is even more meaningful for us and Mary since we can honor her directly for her contributions.”
Tomah Health Hospice registered nurse Julie Oppelt, BSN, RN, nominated Donaldson to receive the special recognition. “We are so thankful for nurse Guards Mary, Rhonda, Marla, Chuck, Sue and Natty for coming today. Mary is a humble and special person who has touched the lives of many and deserves the recognition,” said Oppelt.
The WNHG is a statewide network of volunteer nurses who volunteer their time, efforts and travel to honor fallen colleagues.
Mary earned her nursing degree in 1970 from the Chicago Public School of Nursing, which has since closed. Over the years, she worked in many hospitals, clinics and nursing homes in Colorado, Nebraska and Illinois. “I enjoyed working in any unit that I was needed and loved the variety of patients I had,” Mary said of her career.
During the tribute, her family and Tomah Health Hospice staff surrounded Donaldson. She was also presented a white rose to symbolize the guard’s appreciation for the difference she made in people’s lives.
The tribute ended with a Final Call to Duty where Mary was presented a Florence Nightingale Lamp that symbolized the knowledge she obtained in the nursing field and as reminder of the history of nursing.
Honor Guard Lead Mary Schlafke wrapped up the event paying Mary the ultimate accolade. “Mary will truly leave behind an individualized legacy to the nursing profession. Our group along with myself was honored to recognize Mary who answered the calling to serve others.”