Think you’ve been in nursing a long time? nurse Alice Grabber is 93-years-old and recently retired after working in the nursing profession for 72 years. She worked at the Salem Mennonite Home in Freeman in southeast South Dakota and is now volunteering there to help with patient’s meals.
Not only was she the oldest nurse in Salem Mennonite Home, she is the oldest nurse in South Dakota. Linda Young from the South Dakota Board of Nursing says, “It’s pretty unusual.”
Shirley Knodel, the director of nursing at the Salem Mennonite Home, assisted in organizing Graber’s retirement party.
Knodel said, “I have a great respect for her and her knowledge. She;s a bundle of energy.” She’s always happy to help others.
Some of the people at her retirement party included adults, who as babies were delivered by Graber, and many other patients, family, and friends that Graber has come into contact with along her 72-years in the profession.
“How many of us, would have 150 people in a small town come to our retirement party?” says Knodel.
Graber lost her mother and father when she was very young and was raised by her aunts and uncles. She was one of three children.
Graber commented on her life by saying, “I’ve had a different life, I must say,”
Graber wanted to attend college after high school, but she was unable to afford it, so she chose nursing. She re-located in Nebraska from Colorado.
St. Elizabeth’s School of Nursing in Lincoln, had 2 openings because two students were unable to pass the required physical to be admitted into the program. She graduated in 1944.
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“It just seemed like the will of God that this all happened,” Miller said.
She moved to South Dakota after working in Nebraska for a year.
One of Graber’s daughters said, “I think she was a career woman far before her time,” Waltner said. “So as I look now in retrospect, I am very proud that my mother was persistent enough to maintain a career through the years of farming. Mom was also very active in community and church organizations, but was still persistent to maintain that identity in healthcare.”
Since she has now retired she is trying to cope with no longer practicing as a nurse.
We wish you a wonderful retirement and thank you for your work in this amazing profession!