Lauretta Wilcox Jarnes
Lauretta Wilcox, the daughter of Howard Wilcox and Etta Hedgecock Wilcox, was born February 11, 1907, in Waurika, Oklahoma, the seventh of nine children. She died May 24, 1993, in Fallbrook, California, at the age of 86.
When she was six, Lauretta moved with her family to Keene, Texas, where she grew up and, in 1926, graduated from Southwestern Junior College. She trained as a nurse at Washington Sanitarium and Hospital and, in 1933, was certified by Maryland as an R.N. Returning to the Midwest, she worked as school nurse at Union College, in Lincoln, Nebraska, where she completed a B.A. in Education in 1935.
Lauretta’s professional career started and ended in Lincoln, Nebraska, beginning in 1936 as pre-nursing instructor and Director of Health Services at her alma mater. Twenty years later her supervisor from that time, Dr. W. H. Emery, wrote of her: “Mrs. Jarnes has probably been the most efficient and the most capable of any nurse that I have employed either before or since.”
Lauretta married Peter C. Jarnes in 1937 and continued teaching at Union College for two more years before moving with him to Massachusetts, again teaching pre-nursing at Atlantic Union College; then to Minnesota, where she began raising her family. She returned to Lincoln in 1953 as a homemaker and staff nurse at Lincoln General Hospital. From 1958 to 1962 she was Executive Secretary of the Nebraska Nurses Association and headed the nurses’ registry. From 1962 to 1963 she organized and directed nursing services at the new Homestead Nursing Home. In 1963 she was hired by the public-school system as the first Director of the Lincoln Public School of Practical Nursing. Under her leadership the school attained recognition by scoring in the top 10 percent countrywide in national examinations.
Lauretta retired to Glendale, Oregon, in 1971 and moved to Fallbrook, California, in 1989 after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Lauretta will be best remembered for her unselfish service. Her family she served as an accomplished homemaker, loving wife and mother, and devoted grandmother. She was a woman of great energy, skill and good humor. Her hospitality and home-cooked feasts were legendary with relatives, friends and homesick college students. She enjoyed visiting the sick and elderly regularly. And in her career as nurse and teacher of nurses, she was known for her dedication to patient care and human dignity.
Lauretta never talked about her good deeds. Nor did she ever write a treatise or preach a sermon on Christian service. But what she did was much better: she lived a life of good deeds and humanitarian service for others.