The Ottumwa Courier


July 21, 2013

St. Joe nurses reunite, look back on days at school


"It keeps everyone in touch, but this might be close to the last one," she said. "You figure, the last class finished in 1972 and they were probably 22 when they finished. That's around 40 years ago, so they're all in their early 60s now."

Looking back on her time at the school, Glassner said she was a bit of a troublemaker.

"Sister Christine always had it in for me," she said with a chuckle. "One time she caught me putting spirits of ammonia in a coat."

But Patrick said the nurses were very fortunate to have studied at the school.

"I knew so many exceptional nurses there who went on to have very responsible jobs," she said.

The theme of the night was "The Way We Were," evidenced by the buttons each person received when they signed in. Vandello, with the help of The Photo Shop owner Keith Caviness, took digital photos of the graduation pictures, now in the hands of the Wapello County Historical Society. They then placed those photos and the graduation year on buttons, which each graduate pinned to her blouse or dress.

Every three years a reunion is held, said Jackie Moll. All the graduating classes are invited back and anywhere from one to several graduates from a class makes the trip to Hotel Ottumwa.

"This is just a way to get the classes together, to visit, to see who's not with us anymore," Vandello said.

But this year's reunion was also somewhat bittersweet since Sister Suzanne Wickenkamp died in 2011, one year after the nurses' last reunion.

"She was a pillar of this school of nursing," Vittetoe said.

Wickenkamp was the director or nursing at St. Joe's for years, then taking on the role of hospital administrator and supervisor of chaplain services after the school closed.

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