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Monday, May 2, 2016

Gray Matters: Some stories should not be forgotten

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Each time I go into the Reed Center, Marcus Historical Society, I am struck anew by the amount of devoted effort that has been put into this special place.

I know that many of you have shared such feelings, whether it's in the Reed Center or in a similar facility in your own community. Although my contribution of hands-on labor is limited, perhaps my words can take up a bit of the slack. It is in this sense that I am writing today.

While viewing the memorabilia of our late, revered, Dr. M. F. Joynt, I was reminded of his nurse Cora Loutsch, a truly remarkable woman. At the time of her passing, nearly three decades ago, Holy Name Catholic Church was observing the lovely old-world custom of tolling their bell each time a parishioner passed away.

With your permission I would like to recall the following portion of a tribute written at that time, for hers is a story that should not be forgotten.

"One recent late June morning the bell tolled 89 times to mark the passing of Cora Loutsch. It did, indeed toll for all of us, as the poet John Donne reminds from long ago. With the death, of Dr. M.F. Joynt's nurse, a door was gently closed on an era of our common history.

The doctor's office was up the long stairs over the present Marcus News Office. This was long before the concept of so-called 'accessibility' was in the picture. If a patient was unable to negotiate the steps, the doctor made a house call. It was as simple as that.

Cora, a dignified formal little woman, was in complete control of the multiple demands of the office practice. Quiet, private, she hadn't many close personal relationships beyond those of her beloved mother and sisters. In later years while she was in a nursing home and we were told, her speech patterns sometimes reverted to the precise diction of a rural schoolteacher. She had taught in area schools for some years. Cora once said, in a moment of rare confidence, that during those years she had known that she just had to be a nurse.

When she finally managed to save enough money, she set off alone, serenely independent, for nursing school in Kansas City. After completing the course, she was registered and followed her profession in that city for several years.

In time, her family needed her here so she returned to Marcus and accepted the position with Dr. Joynt. Here, her life ran its course, encompassed by church, family and career.

In essence, there was something very modern, very relevant about Cora. To borrow an over-used phrase, 'She did her own thing.' And her 'thing' was really quite revolutionary. The number of rural young women who went off alone to a distant city to pursue a career was mighty small. But Cora did it with a reserved dignity that would put most of today's raucous liberationists to shame. There was a great deal about Cora Loutsch to admire and emulate. We salute her memory."