Theda Clark Memorial Hospital Training School for Nurses

Graduating Class of 1938
Neenah, Wisconsin

At some point, Marian became interested in pursuing a career in nursing, though it is not clear that she had any role models for that career path. Perhaps it was related to the health of her mother who eventually died following a stroke in January 193 8 or to the death of her brother Edward who died in 1933 from complications related to a brain tumor.

In her application for admittance to the school of nursing, the following information was listed on a nursing school pre-admissions questionnaire signed by J. T. Luther, Principal, Antigo High School.

During her high school course:
Was she conscientious? Very
Was her influence in the school Good?: Very Negative? ___ Bad? ___
Was she neat?: Very or Untidy? ___
In her work? Very In her appearance? Very
Was she truthful or deceitful? Very truthful
Was her behavior ladylike or loud? Ladylike
Is she cheerful or moody? Cheerful
In fact, Is she the type of person you would like to have with you if you were ill?
Indeed. Marian is an outstanding girl & will be a decided asset to the nursing professional
Very truly yours,
J. T. Luther Principal

The Theda Clark School of Nursing opened in 1912 with 5 nursing students in the first class. It evolved into a three-year training school with graduates being awarded with designation of Registered Nurse or RN degree. For admission, the young women had to have completed four years of high school and to have met other requirements.

Nursing students were required to spend six months at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, Illinois, during their junior or senior year. Students spent time in pediatric nursing, psychiatric nursing and contagious disease nursing. State boards had to be passed before being certified as a Registered Nurse. Board examinations were conducted in Milwaukee and lasted for two or three days and were comprised of written work and demonstration of nursing procedures.

Before the closure of the Theda Clark nursing school in 193 8, it was noted nationally that there were too many nurses, and a decision was made to eliminate the small training schools for nurses. There was a shift from service work provided by student nurses in larger hospitals to more classroom work. Hope was expressed that the Theda Clark program would reopen, but that never happened. The School of Nursing building was demolished in May 1967 to make way for the expansion of the Theda Clark Memorial Hospital.

During her last year of nurses' training, Marian's mother Elida died on January 28, 1938, at the age of 58. Elida's death certificate states that she died of a cerebral hemorrhage that occurred 8 days before she died. However, it is also noted on the certificate that Elida had hemiplegia (paralysis on one side of the body) as a result of a cerebral hemorrhage dating from March 13, 193 6, four days before Marian's 19th birthday. While I am sure that Marian was close to her mother and was greatly affected by her several strokes and early death, Marian seemed closer to her father emotionally. That said, her mother's death must have weighed heavily on Marian at the time and on her later marriage in 1939.

The graduating class of 1938 was, in fact, Theda Clark's last graduating class for nurses in training. Miss Jean D. Cruickshank, R.N., was the superintendent of nurses at the time. There were 8 members of the class, including the following as listed in the Appleton Post-Crescent: Helen (A.) Bauer (Baur) McClone (1917-2005), Clintonville; Helen (M.) Hopka (191 7-2011), Berlin; Vanda (A.) Kresse Evenstad (1916-2012), Neenah; Ruth (Lorraine) Herrick Palmbach (1917-2010), Oshkosh; Marcella (Esther) Heinke Baggett (1918-2010), Wausau; Mildred (Ruth) Hayes (sic) (Haese) Rickabaugh (1917-2010), Marion; Virginia (R.) Hoffman Laedtke (1913-2004), Neenah; and Marion (sic) (Marian) (Elizabeth) Krie (sic) (Kreie) Garrett (191 7-1996). It is interesting to observe that Marian died about 8 years before any of her other classmates at the age of 79. The average age at death of the other seven classmates was about 92 years of age. What was it about this group of women that contributed to there extraordinary longevity?

The graduating exercises of the Class of 193 8 were held at the nursing school building on Friday evening, September 9, 1938, at 8 pm. Marian's diploma was signed by the school superintendent Jean D. Cruickshank, R.N., and by C. B. Clark who was instrumental in starting the hospital in 1909 and the nursing school in 1912. Clark's sister Theda died after giving birth to a daughter, and it is in her remembrance that the hospital and the school were named. It is not known if any of Marian's family attended the ceremony. Within a year Marian would be married and living in the small farming community of Lorimor in the middle of Iowa.

The class motto was "Forward Ever, Backward Never." The class colors were brown and yellow, and the class flower was yellow rose.

Marian Elizabeth Kreie Graduation Photo Theda Clark School of Nursing 1938

Marian Elizabeth Kreie
Graduation Photo Theda Clark School of Nursing 1938

I believe that Marian met her future husband Kenneth during her time of training at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. It would seem from newspaper accounts that she practiced nursing in her hometown of Antigo, Wisconsin, following graduation and until her marriage in September 1939. Exactly what she did and where she lived in Antigo from September 193 8 through August 1939 is not known.

After her marriage Marian worked at the hospital in Winterset, Madison Co., Iowa, for several years before quitting work to raise a family. It is about 15-20 miles from Lorimor to Winterset. Marian did not know how to drive so it is presumed that she either carpooled with someone or else her husband Kenneth provided the transportation. Marian did not learn how to drive until about 1954 at the age of 3 7 after moving to Colfax, Jasper Co., Iowa.

She used her nursing skills while living in Lorimor to care for family friends, a fact that was brought up by acquaintances years later. She worked to keep her certification as an RN up to date. She last worked as an RN at a nursing home in Mason City, Cerro Gordo Co., Iowa. She liked to work the overnight shift at the nursing home where she could be more independent from doctors specifically. While she never talked about stories from her days as a nurse, she was extremely proud of her RN degree and kept in contact with fellow members of her 1938 nursing class from Theda Clark.