Maine College of Health Professions
70 Middle Street, Lewiston, Maine 04240
phone: (207) 795-2840 email:

Alumni Stories

Alumni share their own stories as well as interesting stories about the School

We hope you enjoy and share these stories.


Musings from a Class Rep

Alumna Recalls Serving in Desert Shield/Desert Storm

Tribute to Dick Sagner

CMMC's Cadet Nurse Corps Helped the Country During WWII

CMGH/CMMC School of Nursing Alumni, Jean Kierstead Hutchinson, Honored by the Army

Musings from a Class Rep

By Connie Morrissette Orme - Class of 1964

Connie Morrissette Orme Class of 1964

It all started at our 45th reunion in 2009 which was the first I had attended since our 10th back in 1974. Here we were, a lifetime later, all grown up with many life issues settled and once again among the familiar voices and sounds of laughter from days in the distant past; with fuzzy tales of nursing student experiences and of course, the sagas in both Wilson and Metcalfe dormitories. Now that is the nostalgia of long ago days which seems like a century ago. Well, not quite, but we all wondered just how we got here so fast and survived itso well as a class.

As we shared our photos and stories, enthusiasm built to locate the 13 missing pieces of the Class of 1964 puzzle, so we started searching. I have no idea how it happened, but I took the list of contacts we had and added to it as info became available. After three years, as we were preparing for our fiftieth, we had located all but one. We happily started contacting all to set a date for our 50th celebration in 2014, while still continuing our yearly reunions each summer to fuel the fire, at Polly and Ray Bussieres home in Canton. What a treat to have those we had located join us. This was very successful and led to a fantastic 50th celebration. Definitely worth the effort!

In 2011, when the Alumni Association asked for Class Representatives from each class to create and maintain a list of graduates in their class with current contact information and updating the list yearly, it seemed natural that I would be the one to respond for the class of 1964. I had the information on my computer and the updates would be simple as I was in contact with all via e and snail mail. Its also great to hear what the classmates are up to with a move or change in job or lifestyle. The news then goes out to all. Its as easy as can be!

I must say it has been more fun than work and the rewards in locating missing classmates after all these years; getting caught up on their lifes journey and discovering the various paths and places we have all taken has been downright edifying. Whatever estrangement I had from those younger years was replaced with a sense of real belonging and accomplishment with each contact I made. And the friendships I've renewed are the best of all. What a ride this has been!

So why am I sharing all this with you? Well, it isnt often I write about my experiences, but my hope is that I'll pique your interest and stir up some enthusiasm for you to volunteer for your respective class. It really is fun and a wonderful opportunity to lend a big hand to all who work so diligently to keep our Alumni Association functioning, in touch, and accomplishing its mission.

Do you hear your name being called? If so, contact Polly Bussiere to volunteer and get further information. Come on don't need much except a bit of time, a sense of adventure and renewed contact with friends as well as the reunions down the road that will mean a great deal to all. With all that said, I invite you to take on a fun task and start way ahead of your next reunion to make it a real blast from the past. Believe me, the trip is as much fun as the destination.


Alumna Recalls Serving in Desert Shield/Desert Storm

Article by Winnie McMorrow, CMGH Class of '67

While helping to research a recent article about the Nurse Cadet Program (CMMC's Cadet Nurse Corps) I began to think about the experiences and resulting stories that CMGH/CMMC nursing graduates could share. So many nurses from our school/college have made significant contributions all over this country and the world.

I began to think of my own experiences while serving in the Army Reserve and of being activated in support of operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm in 1991. 

A bit of history: The Army Reserve was officially founded in 1908, when Congress created the Medical Reserve Corps. Even before that, however, a citizen-soldier force can be traced back to the French & Indian War (1756-1763).

The invasion of Kuwait by Iraq in 1990 led to the largest call-up of Reserve Component personnel since the Korean War. At this time, nearly 70% of medical personnel were in Reserve units.

I belonged to the 1125th US Army Hospital, which was based in nearby Auburn. When we were called up, our unit members were assigned to several hospitals here in the U.S. as well as field hospitals overseas.  The majority of nurses were sent to Cutler Army Hospital, at Ft. Devens, Massachusetts, or to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. I was in the latter group.

Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) has a very impressive history. The hospital opened its doors in 1909, and by 1991 had grown into a vast medical complex that had treated hundred of thousands of soldiers.  Major Walter Reed was known for his efforts to combat typhoid and yellow fever, diseases that often afflicted members of the military serving overseas.

The sheer size of the buildings and grounds were amazing to me.  WRAMC was to be the primary receiving center for the injured that were sent home. The hospital was ready to expand to 1300 beds if needed.  Of course, while the hospital was expanding, the staff was shrinking due to overseas deployments. Enter the Reserves, the National Guard and retirees! An article in the Washington Post from February 5, 1991 indicated that over 200 Reservists had replaced active duty doctors and nurses at WRAMC.

What I found to be amazing was that in the 18-room O.R., there were five CMGH/CMMC nurses! Besides myself, there was Wanda Carmichael '70, Linda Greenwood Karod '65, Leonard Demeglio, '76 and Royce Coburn,CRNA '72-2. 

Other CMGH/CMMC nurses were also working throughout the hospital. Gloria Hall '64 was on the transplant ward, Ray Arbour '73 was in Psychiatry and Sheryl Hodgkins KemWalter Reed Medical Centerpton '84 was in the outpatient woman's clinic. They were all from the 1125th.  I was totally surprised to learn that my classmate Ken Morrill '67 was the Chief Nurse of the 7th floor, which held five wards, including the VIP/Executive ward and several clinics.  Theo Bosarge, '77 was not far away, as he had been assigned to the O.R. at Ft. Belvoir, in Fairfax County, Virginia.  Priscilla Staples, '75, served at Ft. Devens.

We were fortunate that most of us returned home within six months and were able to get back to our "regular" lives and jobs.  It was, however, quite an amazing experience and honor to serve and care for our brave soldiers.

As I write this I am also reminded of -- and have so much respect for – the service of other nurses such as my classmate Megan Murphy '67, and many corpsmen who served in Vietnam. Many of our colleagues have also served long deployments in the recent past and present (such as Sheryl Hodgkins Kempton).

Our Nursing Alumni Association would love to hear from our fellow alumni. We would like to know where your nursing path led -- and we would love to share your memories and anecdotes with other alumni on our web pages. To learn more about the Nursing Alumni Association, email Anita Taylor at or call the Alumni Office at 207-795-2884.


Tribute to Dick Sagner

Patricia Sagner Dyer ('72) Pays Tribute to Her Hard-Working Father, Dick Sagner, a Baker at CMGH/CMMC for 57 Years

Many older graduates of the Central Maine General Hospital/Central Maine Medical Center School of Nursing will remember my Dad, Richard ("Dick") Sagner, a baker at the hospital from 1924 to 1982. I've been asked to write a recollection of the path that led my father to the job that he loved for 57 years.

My father was born in Germany in 1902. He had two younger sisters. His father died while serving as a soldier in World War I, which left my father, at the age of 16, as the main provider for his mother and two sisters. He left school and went to work as a baker's apprentice. In 1922 his Uncle August, who had immigrated to the United States, urged my grandmother to send her son to America – "the land of opportunity." With much trepidation, my father Richard arrived at Ellis Island in 1923. He moved to Auburn where he worked for six months at Olfene's Market, until there was an opening for a baker at CMGH.

For many years my father worked a split shift, from 4-10 AM, and then 2-5 PM. The hospital provided rooms for workers to rest between their shifts. (Workers went to the "brown house" on Lowell Street where the medical offices building stands today.) I remember as a child going there with my mother to visit him on his off hours.

In those days everything was made from scratch – bread, pie crust, puddings, cookies, etc. My father was famous for his Parker House rolls, cinnamon buns and my favorite, date-filled cookies. As he neared retirement he was asked to write down his recipes. This amused him, as he said that a good baker doesn't measure amounts – he just goes by the way the batter looks. He loved the student nurses and would often give them treats when they passed by the bakery. Many older grads have told me of fond memories they have of him, as they worked in the diet kitchen as part of their training.

My father loved his job and everyone loved him -- although I have heard tales of his German temper, when co-workers didn't meet his standards or didn't move fast enough to suit him! He loved to tell my brothers and me stories of his early years at CMGH. He especially had high regard for Miss Rachel Metcalfe (supervisor of both the hospital and the school of nursing from 1909-1927). Dr. Joelle Hebert became superintendent in 1931, and during this era, my Dad was glad to welcome electric refrigeration, dishwashers and automatic ice makers.

In 1975, to celebrate his 50th year at CMMC, Dana Thompson and the board presented my father and my mother with an all-expense paid trip to Germany. He had never been back. He had a wonderful reunion with his sisters, who were in their 60s, as with other relatives. It was a bittersweet trip, however, as he was saddened to see how his family was living behind the Iron Curtain. (The State Department had issued them special visas to go to East Germany). Sadly, he didn't live to see the curtain come down. My father passed away in 1983 after a short illness. Many of you will also remember my brother, Dick Jr., who inherited my dad's baking skills and worked nearly 40 years in the bakery. He passed away unexpectedly in 2005.
Dick Sagner 1975 PHOTO
It was a proud day for my Dad when I graduated from CMGH in 1972, followed by my sister-in-law, Donna Hews Sagner, in 1974. He would have been especially proud to know that his granddaughter Lindsay Dyer Anderson graduated in 2012.

CMGH/CMMC was his life for 57 years.

Written by Patricia Sagner Dyer, class of '72-2.


CMMC's Cadet Nurse Corps Helped the Country During WWII

Some of CMMC's College of Nursing Alumni have a special story to tell about how they became nurses. These nurses had a special designation – they were members of the United States Cadet Nurse Corps, a program created to support the country's war effort during WWII.

World War II Patriotic Poster

In 1943, because of the nursing shortage that occurred right from the start of World War II, federal legislation was enacted to create a special program known as the U. S. Cadet Nurse Corps, to attract young women to the nursing profession. More than 250,000 nurses, about 20 percent of the country's nurses, had enlisted in the Armed Services by early 1943.  

In response to the nursing shortage, Republican congresswoman Frances Payne Bolton of Ohio proposed legislation in 1943 to establish a Cadet Nurse Corps. Rep. Bolton proposed that the government pay tuition and other expenses, plus provide a stipend, to attract women to the nursing schools. Bolton feared that community hospitals would suffer because of the nursing shortage. She also stressed that new students would help the country by freeing up a graduate nurse to serve in active duty or in the Civil Services.

The legislation, known as "The Bolton Act," passed unanimously in both houses, was signed by Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt, and became law as of July 1, 1943. The United States Public Health Service oversaw the program through its new Division of Nurse Education. When combat ended in the Pacific in 1945, the Division decided not to take anymore enrollments in the program after October 1945.

Cadet Program Certification

Certificate of Membership for Patricia L. Curran 

Central Maine General Hospital School of Nursing was one of the 1,125 nursing schools that participated in the program. (At that time, there were about 1300 nursing schools in the U.S.) For many young women in Maine, this program was a way to help their country – and ultimately improve their own lives, by giving them an education they might not have been able to afford.  Maine women responded: in 1944 the Central Maine General Hospital School of Nursing reported a total enrollment of 119.

A look at the program from the 1946 CMMC U.S. Cadet Nurse Capping ceremony shows how effective and far-reaching this program truly was. Graduates were from places including Rockport, Wilton, Rangeley, New Sharon, Lisbon, Sebec Station, North Anson, Orono, Bethel— even Middletown, Connecticut.

CMMC Graduating Class of 1946B



Download the Capping Program for the Class of 1946-B

Some of the surviving alumni of the Central Maine General Hospital School of Nursing U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps include Patricia Curran Garrity, Ruth Braley Estes, Patricia Gardner Edwards, Helen Verderber Gatchell and Arlene Verrill Fitchner.  Patricia Gardner Edwards, the Rangeley native who is listed in the "Class of 1946-B" Capping Program book, can recall the benefits given to the new students: free tuition, books, several uniforms (for summer and winter wear, for in-hospital and out) and a stipend. In their first year of training, the cadet nurses received $10 a month; in their 2nd year, $20, and in their third year, $30 per month. Patricia's affiliation was with Boston City Hospital, in the communicable diseases ward.  She remembers the respect she and her fellow nurses were shown. "If the cadets went out in uniform to the movies, they were given a discount, just like regular service people," she said.

The Cadet Nurse Corps Program Was A Success

At its inception, the program was called "Victory Nurses," but it was decided to change the name to the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps to underscore the theme of war. The program was advertised heavily in newspaper and magazine ads, posters, radio and in movie newsreels. One print ad asked: "Do You Want to Be a Girl With a Future?" Another urged: "Enlist in a Proud Profession! Join the U.S. Cadet Nursing Corps."

In order to be accepted at nursing school, prospective students needed to be between 17-35 years old, and be a high school or college graduate. They also needed to be "in good health and mentally alert", according to the U.S. Public Health Service.  As an enticement, applicants were assured they could wear clothes that were "frilly and feminine" for dances and were informed that they would have time for dating. One cosmetic company even created a shade of lipstick called "Rocket Red" to match the red on the cadet patch.

By the time the last class graduated in 1948, more than 125,000 women had become Cadet Nurses. It would be the largest and youngest group of uniformed women to serve the U.S. during wartime.

Ruth Margaret Wood Cadet Nurse Corps 1944

Ruth Margaret Wood graduated from Central Maine General Hospital School of Nursing with a registered nurse diploma,  and served as a member of the Cadet Nurse Corps.

Pat Edwards 1943

Patricia Gardner Edwards graduated from Central Maine General Hospital School of Nursing with a registered nurse diploma,  and served as a member of the Cadet Nurse Corps.

For more information on The U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps visit

Were you a nursing cadet?  We'd love to hear your story.  Please contact Winnie McMorrow, if you would like to share your story.

Thanks to Winnie McMorrow, Jean Pulkkinnen and Anita Taylor for submitting information for this article.


CMGH/CMMC School of Nursing Alumni, Jean Kierstead Hutchinson, Honored by the Army

Jean Hutchinson passed away on March 26, 2013 shortly after this story was posted to our website.  We feel fortunate we were able to record a piece of Jean's history and share it on our website.  Jean was surely an inspiration and we are proud that she is part of our Alumni. Jean's obituary can be viewed on the Lewiston Sun Journal website.

Interview by Jean Pulkkinen

The Army Nurse Corps recently honored Auburn resident and Central Maine General Hospital Nursing School alumnae Jean Kierstead Hutchinson.

In November, Jean, 91, received a visit from the Nurse Recruiter from the Army Nurse Corps based in Boston. She received a bouquet of red roses along with these honors:

•    The Army Nurse Corps Insignia
•    The Honorable Service Pin
•    A WWII European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with Battle Star
•    A Wounded Warrior Blanket

Jean was a young graduate of the Central Maine General Hospital Nursing School when she made the decision to use her nursing skills to serve her country during World War II.  Jean, a graduate of the Class of 1943, first worked at the hospital's Blood Bank, and then did private duty. At the age of 23, she joined the Army Nurse Corps. The Army Nurse Corps had been created in 1901, and gave women their first opportunity to actively help their country in times of war. (The Navy Nurse Corps followed in 1908.) The need for nurses had become apparent not only because of the injuries soldiers suffered in battle -- also due to the diseases they contracted while fighting in the field. (For example, diseases such as typhoid and malaria killed far more soldiers than the fighting during the Spanish-American War.)

After receiving some training in Boston, Jean and her unit, the 221ST General Hospital Unit, departed on the Queen Mary and headed for England. Jean worked there in hospitals during the bombing of London. After that, her unit was transported to France and taken to the edge of the battlefields via rail in wooden box cars known as "40X8's " -- meaning that they held 40 people or 8 horses. The Nurse Corps created wards (similar to a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (M.A.S.H.) unit) in the stables of a former French Calvary School near the Ardennes Mountains. Jean recalls treating both American GIs and German POWs. She remembers young soldiers who were only in their early teens. She also remembers the intense cold, and learned later that it had been the coldest winter in a century.

Jean's family enjoys recounting the story about their father, Alton, (Jean's fiancé at the time) who was in the G2 intelligence 4th Armored Division. Somehow he managed to acquire a Jeep to visit her before his unit moved on. Fortunately he returned to his unit unharmed, despite the dangerous conditions!

Note: For more information on Jean read the recent article in the  Williamsport Sun-Gazette.

We're proud of our distinguished alumnae, Jean Kierstead Hutchinson! Thank you for all you have done!

Photos of Jean

Jean Kierstead Hutchinson College Alumnae