Marie H.

A memorial and huge thank you to my Mammaw Rie!

A special memorial to my grandmother, Marie Hartman, one of the many role models of servant leadership I have been bless to have guiding me in life.  Mammas Rie, as I called her, graduated high school in 1938, after being forced to stop attending school for a year because her mother contracted pneumonia, a much more deadly disease in the 30’s than today.  Marie spent what should have been her junior year sitting at the bedside of her mother.  The doctor would stop by every couple of days to check on things and give Marie more instructions for her mother’s care.  After a year- long battle with pneumonia and the debility that resulted, her mother was on the mend; and Marie now knew what she wanted to do with her life…she wanted to be a nurse.   With very little money and a great deal on motivation, Marie made all the arrangements, and boarded a train to Boston, Ma where she attended and graduated from Johns Hopkins  school of nursing in 1942 and began working just after graduation.   It was there she cared for a badly burned soldier who was a navigator in the Army Air Corps and had been stationed in the South Pacific.  That soldier promised to look her up after the war ended and did just that – the two of them returned to East Tennessee to be married just two months after the war ended on Christmas Eve, 1945.  They wed on Christmas Eve because it was the only day she could get off of work because of the huge influx of returning soldiers the demand had never been greater for nurses (until now). At age 27, she was promoted to Director of Nursing for Greenville’s Laughlin Hospital and had made quite a name for herself in the healthcare community.   When the state of Tennessee decided to open a large Mental health Hospital and research center in Greene County, they came looking for Marie to run it.  She accepted the position of Director of Nursing for the 2000 bed Green Valley Development Center and dedicated the next 27 years of her life helping those people with mental and developmental challenges better function in their society, and also spent a great deal of time advocating for increased research into cognitive disorders and mental health diseases and improved community education and awareness.  She was named to the Governor’s Counsel for Mental Health research, and retired in August of 1987, three years after her husband’s death,  amidst much fanfare and community recognition , after over  45 years dedicated service to the nursing profession. 

Jennifer Sheets