Today is National School Nurse Day.
Therefore we commemorate Carol J. Henry, the first school nurse for the Madison School District whose selfless spirit was tragically cut short in 1998. Her sudden death at age 58 stunned that close-knit community but endeared her memory forever to family, friends, her church and an entire school system.
National School Nurse Day was created by the National Association of School Nurses (NASN) to acknowledge the contributions school nurses make every day to improve the safety, health and academic success of all students, a spokeswoman said.
Carol’s contributions to her calling and community were recounted in the book, “Middletown Women - Profiles of Women who made a Difference in the Community.” The book was published several years ago by the Middletown Branch of the American Association of University Women.
Carol died not far from her home in Madison Township one September morning in 1998 when her vehicle was struck by another, according to an article in the Cincinnati Enquirer. Reportedly she was on her way to one of the district schools.
Then-Madison High School Principal Robert “Bud” Bierly was quoted in the article : “Carol was one of the most loved people in this district.”
A wife, mother and grandmother, Carol seemed destined to serve her fellow man. According to her obituary in the Enquirer, she graduated in 1958 from Middletown High School and in 1961 from the Middletown Hospital School of Nursing. In 1978 she was a member of the first graduating class of Miami University’s bachelor of science in nursing program.
Carol’s interest in nursing was apparent early on. In high school she was member of the Nightingale Club for future nurses, appearing with fellow club officers in a photograph in the 1958 Middletown High School yearbook, the “Optimist.”
According to the AAUW book, “in 1974 Carol became the first school nurse for the Madison School District.” The Enquirer reported that Carol became “the Madison Local School District’s only school nurse, rotating among the district’s three buildings. For 24 years she handled emergencies, kept immunization records and knew most students by name…”
According to the AAUW book, Carol also met the challenge of becoming an EMT (emergency medical technician) with the newly formed Madison Life Squad in 1980. She later became a training officer for the squad, “combining her teaching skills with her health-care knowledge.”
The AAUW book described Carol’s “enthusiasm for life” as “apparent in all she did. Her love for the Lord manifested itself in her desire to be involved in the community, church and the lives of all those she loved...”
For example, the book reported, the birth of her first grandson in 1990 motivated Carol to establish a day care center at the Spring Hill Church of Christ where she had been a member since childhood. “This project combined her loves of family, community service, education and safety for children. Her physical stamina was tested by 12 hour days as she ran the center before and after her full days as school nurse,” it said.
The AAUW book continued : “Carol counted the days until her planned retirement at the end of the 1998-99 school year. She looked forward to spending time with her four grandsons and traveling with her brothers and sisters. Her husband, Darrel, retired from AK Steel and they were beginning to plan their ‘Golden Years’...
“Though her life was cut short, Carol Henry made a strong impact on the lives of the many she served in the schools, in the hospital, and in the community...Her joyful song is sorely missed by many,” the book concluded.
“Middletown Women - Profiles of women who made a difference in the community” (available in the Ohio Room at MidPointe Library’s Middletown location).
Cincinnati Enquirer, Tuesday, Sept. 22, 1998.