Mary Timmons, RN 2015 Cornerstone Award Recipient


In Barrington, NH a young girl who dreams of one day being a nurse has just graduated from Spaulding High School, Class of 1958. Her sights are set on Boston, Massachusetts and New England Baptist School of Nursing. Her life was about to change.

Nursing School was different in the 50s. For your annual tuition of $500.00 you received room and board. The students did have to pay for their own uniforms and books. Students went to school year round with only one month off per year. No jewelry could be worn, hair had to be off your collar, or you wore a hair net. You were not permitted to have a boyfriend and could not be engaged or married. If so, you were asked to leave school. As a nursing student you were capped within three months and then began working in the hospital. By the end of your first year a student worked every other weekend at the Baptist and began 3 month affiliations at each of the following Hospitals; Boston Children’s Hospital, Metropolitan State Hospital and Boston Lying In Hospital. Students in their junior year and senior years worked at each of the hospitals as the staff with only a head nurse as a supervisor.

Mary did get engaged her senior year to Richard Timmons. She purchased a stunning wedding gown of satin and Chantilly lace at Filene’s Basement in Boston (for only $4.00-originally priced at $149.00) and was married 6 weeks after her graduation from nursing school in 1961. That’s the kind of person that Mary is…she knows what she wants and she works to achieve it!

During Mary’s first year as a nurse, she worked at Frisbie Memorial Hospital. She and her new husband soon moved to Rutland, Vermont where she worked in a nursing home. After one year in Rutland, Mary and Dick moved back to Rochester where she worked at Frisbie Memorial Hospital until the birth of her first son Paul. During the next six years, Mary gave birth to two more sons, Carl and Glen and enjoyed her time as a stay at home Mom. Well not exactly stay at home…she was very involved in her sons’ activities even serving as Den mother and Secretary/Treasurer for the Boys Scouts. She was also a Sunday school teacher at her church and the secretary for the Gonic School PTA. When her two oldest boys where in school, Mary again answered her calling and returned to Frisbie Memorial Hospital from 1971 to 1976.

In 1976, she joined the Rural District Health Council which later became the Rural District VNA. Nine towns were in the territory including Barrington, Strafford, Deerfield, Northwood, Nottingham, Farmington and the three that Mary was in charge of-Middleton, Milton and New Durham. There were 5 nurses and one LNA at that time. Her uniform consisted of a fashionable blue pinstripe dress in the summer and navy blue pants and white top in the winter! The office was located over the hardware store in Farmington.

In her role as a home care nurse, Mary has held many positions from the coordination of community care at clinics providing health screenings and immunizations to home health nurse, nurse trainer and Clinical Supervisor. It was during the early period in Mary’s home health care career that the demand for skilled nursing in the home started to grow. The NH Bureau of Maternal and Child Health formed an alliance with Home Health Agencies and along with providing health screening clinics for members of the community, nurses were now providing Well Child Clinics and making home visits to patients enrolled at the clinics. At that time a new position for a Referral Coordinator was established and Marie Dexter RN filled this roll along with providing visits to patients in Barrington and Strafford. This allowed for increased referrals from the hospital for patients needing home health care. Not only were referrals growing, but so too was the skill set being demanded of home health care nurses. In the 1980s blood draws and IVs were needed in the home for the first time and Mary was the first nurse at the VNA to perform blood draws in the home and to start and manage IVs. Changes were again on the horizon. In the year 2000 The Rural District VNA merged with the Rochester VNA. This merger along with the demand for home health nurses soon led to growth in the home care team which now included 2 nursing teams, a rehab team, a separate LNA team and the introduction of multidisciplinary teams.

During her time at the VNA Mary saw many changes. The offices moved several times from the hardware store to the Yea Old Courthouse-then Winter Street and to Charles Street in Farmington. After the merger in 2000 the offices located where we are today-176 Farmington Rd in Rochester.

Mary had the pleasure of working with and developing relationships with many people-clinicians, support staff and volunteers; and maintains countless friendships today. Nursing requirements and standards of care have evolved, but what hasn’t changed is the commitment to providing trusted, compassionate and expert care to patients and their families. One of the most important lessons that Mary learned early on as a nurse and one that she maintained throughout her practice was “you can’t impose your values upon the patients”. You can teach them, care for them, and support them but you can’t make them do anything. That is up to the patient.” She places great value on Home health care nursing. “It allows you the opportunity to provide one on one care for the patient, teaching the patient and their family how to care for themselves.” It’s more personal and for Mary it was a rewarding career.

Mary retired from the VNA in 2006 after 30 years of dedicated service. But her service to others continues. She attends a Bible class weekly, is the Financial Secretary at Church, and volunteers for Red Cross Blood Drives. She is also a Deacon at her church and is on the Committee of Church Ministry of the Carroll and Strafford Association of the UCC. She has traveled the world visiting such countries as England, Israel, Egypt, Ireland, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, China, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, Germany and Alaska. (We told you she knows what she wants and she works to achieve it!)   In 2007 she became a hospice volunteer for Seacoast and Beacon Hospice and in 2011, returned to Cornerstone VNA as a hospice volunteer. Through her volunteerism, as in her nursing career, she has not only brought companionship, care and comfort to patients and their families but has also found meaning, purpose and fulfillment from the all of the relationships that she has acquired.

Today, we honor Mary Timmons, for her many years of service and volunteerism, and for her dedication and commitment to advancing the mission at Cornerstone VNA.

MaryTimmons&Julie Reynolds Mary Timmons, RN is pictured on the left next to Julie Reynolds, CEO after receiving the award on Dec. 1, 2015

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