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Humor, caring helped nurse relate to patients

| Saturday, Sept. 28, 2002

Mary Louise Walsh was devoted to children despite having none of her own.

She began her nursing career at Mercy Hospital, Uptown, in pediatrics "and was very committed to the health care of children and adolescents," said a friend, Sister Joanne Madden. "She absolutely loved children. She was very gifted at her work."

Mary Louise Walsh, a Wilmerding resident, died Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2002, in Forbes Hospice, East Liberty. She was 75.

She was born in Trafford on Aug. 14, 1927, one of seven children of the late John J. and Margaret O'Connor Walsh.

Miss Walsh graduated from Trafford High School in 1945, the Braddock Hospital School of Nursing in 1948 and the Duquesne University School of Nursing in 1965.

She worked at Mercy Hospital from 1951 to 1977 and went from pediatrics to obstetrics and teaching in the nursing school to director of in-service education.

In that position, "she was responsible for coordinating all the courses for nurses who were returning to nursing and had been out of it for a while," Sister Madden said. "She also coordinated all the specialty (nursing) courses in the hospital such as critical care."

Miss Walsh "was an excellent nurse," said Maggie Taylor, another friend and former Mercy colleague. "She was gifted in the care of people. She had an intuitive sense when it came to health care, particularly (for) the people who were unfortunate or downtrodden. She was a great humanitarian."

Sister Madden said Miss Walsh "always went the extra mile, and very unobtrusively. Whatever someone needed — anything — she made sure they got it."

She also had "a great sense of humor — very dry," the sister continued. "She brought humor into her work. It almost became part of the healing process. She helped patients and families to keep a sense of humor."

And she displayed her own at home with a small collection of clown statues and figurines.

"They represented something of her humor and connected with her sense of humor," Sister Madden said. "She recognized the ability to help people understand tragedy in a different way, to accept it, and how to use humor as clowns do to help you to lighten things."

Miss Walsh left Mercy Hospital to work at the St. Joseph Home, Lawrenceville, for two years and Western Restoration Center, Hill District, for five years. She then worked at Mayview State Hospital, South Fayette, for five years until retiring in 1989.

She was an active alumna of the nursing schools she attended and a member of the Gaelic Arts Society of Pittsburgh at St. Colman Catholic Church, Turtle Creek.

At the church, Miss Walsh ran a camera for televised Masses once a week and helped with the building's weekly cleaning.

Besides her parents, she was preceded in death by siblings Frances Artman, Ruth A. McHugh, Genevieve M. O'Donnell, Elizabeth Ann Harter and John P. and William "Knobby" Walsh.

She is survived by nieces and nephews.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10 a.m. today at St. Colman Church, 100 Triboro Ave., with burial to follow in St. Joseph Cemetery, North Versailles.

Arrangements are by the Patrick J. Lanigan Funeral Home, East Pittsburgh.

Miss Walsh's friends and family suggest donations to the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, 2300 Adams Ave., Scranton PA 18509; Pittsburgh Mercy Foundation, 1709 Blvd. of the Allies, Suite 301, Pittsburgh 15129; Sister of Divine Providence, 9000 Babcock Blvd., Allison Park PA 15101, or St. Colman Church, Turtle Creek, PA 15145.

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