Leaving a legacy that cares for others

Surrounded by family and close friends at her mother’s funeral, Mary Gaulke couldn’t stop thinking about finding a way for her mother’s memory to live on.

“My husband, Bill, and I were talking about everything that was going on,” Mary said. “Bill came up with the idea of doing a scholarship in her name. I loved this idea.”

Picture1- smallerJoyce Pladson Fadden, Mary’s mother, was a resident and spent her final days at The Lutheran Home: Belle Plaine. Her stay at The Lutheran Home was a homecoming of sorts as Joyce served as the Director of Nursing at the skilled nursing facility in the late 1970s.

Throughout her career, nursing took Joyce places she couldn’t have imagined. She worked in Alexandria, Minnesota; Glendora, California; Honolulu, Hawaii; Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park, Minnesota; Ebenezer Ridges in Burnsville, Minnesota, and Queen of Peace Hospital in New Prague, Minnesota.

In honor of Joyce and her passion for nursing, Mary and her family created a scholarship in Joyce’s memory for current team members of The Lutheran Home: Belle Plaine who are pursuing a degree in the field of nursing.

“This scholarship is our way of noting that nursing was a big part of my mom’s life and it was something she was passionate about,” Mary explained.

When she shared the idea with her family, including her three sons, Matthew, Wyatt, and David, they all loved it. Wyatt, who was quite close with his grandma, even asked if he could contribute to the scholarship.

“I lived with her [in her home] for almost a year before she needed more care,” Wyatt explained. “She would often share her experiences of working in the nursing field. It was something she was very passionate about. I think this scholarship is something that she would very touched by.”

Joyce’s pride in, and enjoyment of, her long career in nursing lasted well past retirement. In her final days, she still shared her love of nursing with others. She loved to quiz nurses during her stay to nurture their learning and pursuit of knowledge.

“We were visiting her on a weekend. One of the nurses’ aides came by and my mom had made some comment about her homework,” Mary related. “Later, I talked with the aide. She said, ‘Your mom is awesome. She’s always helping us, and she knows what it’s like to be a nurse.’”

Joyce and her family were very happy with the care she received and with all the team members at The Lutheran Home.

“She can’t be here to quiz them now, but through the scholarship, my mom can help out in another way,” Mary said.

The Gaulke’s generosity is greater than their scholarship. The team members and residents will experience the gift in the years to come.