The Trenton Education Center campaign is selling inscribed
brick pavers to be placed near the entrance to the newly renovated and expanded
facility. One of these brick pavers was
purchased by the family of Thelma Shanafelt Schoonover, a remarkable lady who
became a Registered Nurse through Kaskaskia College at the age of 60.
According to the family, “Thelma Shanafelt Schoonover,
Kaskaskia College Nursing Program Class of 1974, graduated at the age of 60 and
practiced as a Registered Nurse until a few months before she died in 1994 at
the age of 80. In 1932 she entered the
St. Luke’s Nursing School in St. Louis.
Because she married before she graduated, she had to leave the
program. In those days you had to be an
unmarried, childless student.
Following a divorce, she and her son returned to Salem,
Illinois where she obtained work as a nursing assistant to Dr. H.E.
Schoonover. As has been known to happen,
Dr. Schoonover, a widower, and Thelma fell in love and were married in October
of 1939. She continued to assist him in
his medical practice until his death in 1969.
They raised his three children, her son, and added three more children
to the group.
Dr. Schoonover was the old time “Country Doctor” who was more
concerned about his patients’ health than in sending bills for his
services. When he passed away, Thelma
was left with a mortgage, accounts receivable (which she made no attempt to
collect) and little else. After
recovering from some challenges to her health, she started working as a nurse’s
aide at Salem Memorial Hospital.
When Kaskaskia College announced its Nursing Program, she
immediately began working for admission.
She was questioned that at her age it might be too difficult and/or she
would have a shortened work career. It
was suggested she shouldn’t take the place of a younger student who would have
more years to nurse. Finally, she was
accepted, graduated, and passed her state boards the first time around.
Thelma, a member of the Marion county Ladies Medical
Society, was chosen to receive their Nursing Scholarship to help her through
school. She nursed at Salem Community Hospital for 15 years and at Bryan Manor
another four years. She truly spent 60
years nursing, although because of Kaskaskia College, 20 of those years were as
a Registered Nurse.
Her family is so proud to honor this extraordinary woman on
the Kaskaskia College campus. She knew
the importance of an education for both men and women. We are grateful Kaskaskia College made it
possible for Thelma and so many others to achieve their dreams.”
Thelma’s family has commissioned at brick paver that will be
installed at the Trenton Education Center entrance, reading “Thelma Elaine
Schoonover RN Class of 1974.”
If you would like to honor someone with a permanent brick
paver, inscribed with a message of your choosing at the entrance to the Trenton
Education Center, please contact Suzanne Christ at 618-545-3069 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.