Three women honored for 100 years' combined careers in nursing

Monday, May 16, 2005

Elaine Phillips, Alice Perkins and Bunny Smith all share something in common, a life-long love of nursing.

All three have spent most of their adult lives in the nursing profession. And all three recently retired after contributing more than 100 combined years to the nursing field.

Phillips said she always knew she wanted to be a nurse. When she was five years-old, a friend fell face first in a rain barrel and couldn't get out. Phillips said she tried to save her friend, but couldn't and ran to her mother for help.

"After that, everyone called me the little lifesaver," she said, "and I knew then I wanted to be a nurse."

Phillips worked as an emergency medical technician and an aide at the hospital while raising five children before going back to school.

She graduated from North Arkansas College in 1974 as a Licensed Practical Nurse and spent the next 30 years in the profession.

"I've worked all over the hospital," she said. "Nursing is the best thing I've ever done."

Perkins has 35 years under her belt as a Registered Nurse. She graduated from Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago, Ill., in 1948.

After working and raising a family in California, Perkins moved to Berryville and hired on as the "nursery nurse," where she stayed until her recent retirement.

"A newborn baby is the closest thing to God," she commented.

Perkins will be traveling more now that she's retired, to see her children and grandchildren. She is also very active in her church.

Smith has more than 40 years of nursing experience behind her, along with another six as a practicing lawyer.

She became a Registered Nurse at the age of 19 after graduating from nursing school in Houston, Texas. She worked as a nurse while she raised her family in Texas. Along the way, she obtained a law degree from the University of Houston and practiced law for six years.

In 1992, she made the move to Berryville and took a nurse manager position at the hospital. In 1996, she cut back her hours to part-time after spending her entire nursing career in obstetrics.

Now retired, Smith will have more time to devote to her other passion, gardening. People are likely to find her hawking vegetables at local farmer's markets.

Phillips, Perkins and Smith were honored recently at a retirement luncheon, sponsored by the obstetrics department of St. John's Hospital -- Berryville. Many co-workers, both past and present, attended.

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