Thursday, July 16, 2015

Those Places Thursday - LaJunta Mennonite School of Nursing

The LaJunta Mennonite School of Nursing was located in LaJunta, Colorado. It began as part of the Mennonite Sanitorium (a TB facility) in Swink, Colorado in 1915 with the first class graduating in 1918. When the new Mennonite Hospital and Sanitorium was built in LaJunta, the training school was moved as well. In 1946 it became an independent institution the had well over 300 graduates. The last class was the class of 1958. More about the school's history can be read on the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online (GAMEO) site.

My mother attended the school and graduated with the class of 1955. Her father's sister, Maude Egli Swartzendruber, was for a time, the director at the school and wrote about the school in her book, "The Lamp in the West."  Aunt Maude influenced a lot of young women, including Mom, to go into nursing.

Phyllis Egli & Maude Egli Swartzendruber

Phyllis Egli & her mother, Edna Peterson Egli

Brochure (my aunt Glenna Schrock Egli is on the right)

Mom and Dad met while they were both attending Hesston College in Hesston, Kansas. After Hesston, Mom went to LaJunta for training and Dad went into alternative service (1W) with the selective service. He tried to get assigned to LaJunta; several young Mennonite guys were assigned there, including Mom's brother, Tom Egli, but Dad was assigned to Pueblo, Colorado. The next three years they dated long distance and wrote almost daily letters. Nursing students were not allowed to be married.

I don't know if all the nursing classes were as close as Mom's but I don't think any group could have been closer. They kept in touch through a 'circle letter' that came as a large packet of letters that Mom loved to read. Then she would take out her old letter, write a new one and send it off again. Every few years the group would get together for a reunion. We learned to know many of her classmates and their families over the years.

Swartzendruber, Maude. The Lamp in the West. Newton, Kansas: La Junta Mennonite School of Nursing Alumnae Association, 1975.

1 comment:

  1. My mother Zola Smith Esau graduated from the Bethel Deaconess nursing program in Newton, Kansas. As a child we went to annual nursing class reunions. Lots of kids. Mom still updates me about her classmates and their families.