Freeman woman, 93, retires from nursing profession

FREEMAN, S.D. (AP) — A 93-year-old Freeman woman has retired after serving more than 70 years as a nurse.

Alice Graber recently celebrated her retirement from the Salem Mennonite Home, where she worked for more than 20 years, the Daily Republic ( ) reported. She still serves at the nursing home by bringing meal trays to residents and feeding them.

Linda Young, a nursing program specialist with the South Dakota Board of Nursing, said Graber was the oldest nurse in South Dakota.

Some of the 150 people who attended Graber's retirement party included adults who Graber helped deliver as babies as well as former patients of the Mennonite home and other facilities where she was employed.

Shirley Knodel, administrator and director of nursing at the Salem Mennonite Home, said the former nurse is energetic and always willing to help.

"I have a great respect for her and her knowledge," Knodel said.

Graber graduated from St. Elizabeth's School of Nursing in Lincoln, Nebraska, in 1944. She worked for a year in Nebraska before moving to South Dakota with her now deceased husband, Wilbert "Jim" Graber.

She took an 11-year hiatus from nursing. Later, she started working one day a week at the Freeman Community Hospital, which is now known as the Freeman Healthcare Center. Soon, she received calls to work early in the morning.

"The kids were very unhappy when that phone would ring," Graber said.

Her daughter, Sharon Waltner, may have been upset at the time, but she said she is now proud of her mother's accomplishments.

"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."

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