Nurse loved people, went the extra mile
Before she retired as a nurse for the Brockway Glass Co., Hazel McCracken saw a patient who'd been told he would never walk again.
“She referred him to another doctor to get a second opinion and he's walking now,” said her daughter, Joyce English. “She always went the extra mile for her patients to do what was best for them.
“She always had a smile on her face. She loved people, and I think they knew she cared about them.”
Mrs. Hazel McCracken, 87, of Ligonier, died Monday, Aug. 14, 2017, at the Bethlen Home in Ligonier, while receiving hospice care for end-stage Alzheimer's disease.
Born Sept. 19, 1929, in Latrobe, she was a daughter of the late Hallack and Luella Braden.
Mrs. McCracken graduated from the Latrobe Hospital School of Nursing in 1950 and worked as a registered nurse for more than 45 years. She began her career with stints at the Latrobe hospital, where her assignments included caring for patients in the recovery room, and at Westmoreland Hospital in Greensburg.
“She had a passion for what she did and enjoyed every day of it, no matter what area of nursing it was,” Mrs. English said, noting her mother became friends with many of her patients over the years. “She was like a private duty nurse for a while and would be with the same patient for weeks and got to know their family. Everyone was like a friend to her. She was just very easy to talk to.”
Mrs. McCracken and her family moved to DuBois in 1969, when her husband, James, was transferred by his employer, the Bell Telephone Company. She cared for hospital patients there before becoming a home health care nurse. When her family became concerned about her traveling on roads in wintry weather, she completed her career at the glass plant.
She also applied her nursing know-how to help four generations of her extended family.
“As we grew up and had children, we would call Mom and tell her what was happening and ask what we should do medically if they came down with chicken pox,” daughter Judith Pierce said. “When my children grew up and had children, they skipped over me,” turning to their grandmother for medical advice.
In addition to her husband of 67 years, Mrs. McCracken is survived by three children, Judith Pierce and her husband, Elmer, of Brockway; Joyce English and her husband, Edward, of Aiken, S.C.; and J. Paul and his wife, Cynthia, of Ligonier; 10 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
Visitation was held Thursday at the J. Paul McCracken Funeral Chapel Inc. in Ligonier. A service to celebrate Mrs. McCracken's life will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at the Fort Palmer Presbyterian Church in Fairfield Township. Interment will follow in Ligonier Valley Cemetery.