Leona Gibb Brown
Interviewed by Marci Farr
9 March 2009
Oral History Program
Weber State University
Leona Gibb Brown
9 March 2009
Copyright © 2010 by Weber State University, Stewart Library
The Oral History Program of the Stewart Library was created to preserve the institutional history of Weber
State University and the Davis, Ogden and Weber County communities. By conducting carefully
researched, recorded, and transcribed interviews, the Oral History Program creates archival oral histories
intended for the widest possible use.
Interviews are conducted with the goal of eliciting from each participant a full and accurate account of
events. The interviews are transcribed, edited for accuracy and clarity, and reviewed by the interviewees
(as available), who are encouraged to augment or correct their spoken words. The reviewed and
corrected transcripts are indexed, printed, and bound with photographs and illustrative materials as
available. Archival copies are placed in Special Collections. The Stewart Library also houses the original
recording so researchers can gain a sense of the interviewee's voice and intonations.
The Dee School of Nursing was founded in 1910 to provide training for nurses who would staff the new
Dee Memorial Hospital. The first class of eight nurses graduated from the school in 1913 and the school
continued to operate until 1955, with a total of more than 700 graduates. A new nursing school and home
located just east of the hospital was completed in 1917 and all nursing students were required to live in
the home during their training.
This oral history project was created to capture the memories of the school's alumni before their stories
disappear in the same way the Dee Hospital has disappeared. The oral interviews focus on how the
women became involved with the school, their experiences going through training, and how they used the
Oral history is a method of collecting historical information through recorded interviews between a
narrator with firsthand knowledge of historically significant events and a well-informed interviewer, with
the goal of preserving substantive additions to the historical record. Because it is primary material, oral
history is not intended to present the final, verified, or complete narrative of events. It is a spoken
account. It reflects personal opinion offered by the interviewee in response to questioning, and as such it
is partisan, deeply involved, and irreplaceable.
All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to
the Stewart Library of Weber State University. No part of the manuscript may be
published without the written permission of the University Librarian. Requests for
permission to publish should be addressed to the Administration Office, Stewart
Library, Weber State University, Ogden, Utah, 84408. The request should include
identification of the specific item and identification of the user.
It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:
Leona Gibb Brown, an oral history by Marci
Farr, 9 March 2009, WSU Stewart Library
Oral History Program, Special Collections,
Stewart Library, Weber State University,
Class of 1952
Leona Gibb Brown
Abstract: This is an oral history interview with Leona Gibb Brown. It was conducted
March 9, 2009 and includes her recollections and experiences with the Dee
School of Nursing. The Interviewer is Marci Farr.
MF: This is Marci Farr. I am interviewing Leona Gibb Brown; she graduated from the
Dee School of Nursing in 1955. It is March 09, 2009, and I am interviewing her
via the telephone. She lives in Shelley, Idaho.
Tell us a little bit about your early life, your family, where you were raised,
and where you went to school.
LB: I was born in Cardston, Alberta, Canada and grew up in an little town called
Hillspring. I was the oldest in the family of nine although there were never more
than five of us at home at the same time. I grew up as a member of the Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I went to school in Canada until we moved
to Ogden, Utah when I was about fifteen.
MF: Is that where you went to high school?
MF: Okay. So Ogden High or did you go to Weber?
LB: Ogden High.
LB: We lived a block above the school.
MF: Tell us why you decided to become a nurse.
LB: I kind of had leanings that way so when I was in high school I had taken classes
that would be compatible to a nursing career. My senior year I worked at the
hospital part time as an aid. I had a girlfriend whose family was quite well to do
and she was going down to BYU. She told me that if I went down there with her
that her father would pay for my way. But I had already kind of looked at nursing.
Finally I decided that I would do what I could do on my own because I wanted to
be on my own. So I chose the nursing.
MF: So why the Dee Hospital? Was it because it was convenient and close, because
it was in Ogden itself?
LB: Those reasons and my father was working there at the time. They were doing a
lot of remodeling and things and he had been hired to help with the redecorating;
however he never was in that position, they hired someone else when it came to
the decorating but he worked in cleaning and helping clean up after they took
stuff down because they were remodeling. The hospital was close and my folks
lived three or four blocks away.
MF: Oh good so you could go visit. That would be a plus that way. What were your
first impressions when you arrived at the nurse’s home? Were you still familiar
with the hospital because you had worked there?
MF: So that probably helped a little bit.
LB: Yes. I had been different places through the hospital, worked on the surgical
floor, and the medical floor just as an aid.
MF: Oh that is good. That probably alleviated some stress?
LB: Some of it. I hadn’t been in the nurse’s home before I don’t think.
MF: At that time you still had to live in the nurse’s home. You couldn’t stay at your
house and go, right?
LB: No we lived right there.
MF: Okay. What were some of the courses you took while you were in the nurse’s
LB: Anatomy and physiology. We took a few college orientation type classes at
Weber the first semester and then it was strictly medical things from that point
MF: Do you remember any of your instructors?
LB: I remember Mrs. Moss and Ruth Brown. I am sure everyone remembers Ruth.
She was a delight but she was very strict.
MF: She was very strict.
LB: Oh yes, you did it right.
MF: But that is why you did so well, because she made it a point of that.
LB: Right. I remember one time I was on the medical floor. We were taking care of a
very sad patient who had been depressed and been laying in bed for twenty
years. She came in with a huge decubitus. Her whole back was just one big raw
sore. We had her in a sawdust bed. I took care of her every day for about ten
LB: I thought, “I don’t think I can do this one more day.” But Ruth said, “You go in
there. That is who you are doing.” She is the one that put me through that. It
was so hopeless, we could do nothing for the lady, and she never did talk to us. I
think she died not too long after that.
MF: That is too bad. Did you know that Ruth just passed away?
LB: No I didn’t.
MF: She passed away February 18th.
LB: Oh really? Just very recently then.
MF: Just very recently. My boss and I were able to attend her funeral and it was
wonderful. She was a fabulous lady. We were excited, we were able to interview
her before she passed away. She was wonderful. Everyone has mentioned how
wonderful she was, strict but—
LB: Fair, but she was fair. She gave you your chance.
MF: Yes very much so. That is wonderful to hear that. Tell me about some of your
classmates. You were the last class with the Dee School of Nursing?
LB: Yes. In the fall when the new class was ready to come in, they had them go to
the Weber campus in the pilot 2 year nursing plan.
MF: To Weber Campus. Tell me about your roommate?
LB: LouAnn Larsen.
MF: LouAnn Larsen, okay.
LB: I think maybe there was two of us that kept the same roommates all three years.
LouAnn and I were one. We are still good friends although we seldom see each
other. More close friends were Kathleen Ferrin and LuDean Peterson.
MF: Yes. Tell us about a typical day at the hospital if you had the morning shift.
LB: You expect me to remember that? I remember the first time I had to give a bed-bath.
I walked in and walked back out and said, “I am not going back in there.”
The eighteen year old boy that was in the room said, “Don’t let her back in here.”
MF: That would be a little unnerving right?
LB: But I went and did it.
MF: That would be scary. That would be. Oh that is funny.
LB: But I don’t remember particular days. I have worked other places and so—
MF: Tell us something that you would do if you had a weekend off or if you had a
night off, what is something that you would go and do.
LB: Well mostly just study. We would study and then go over to the hospital drug I
think it was called. It was straight across the street from the hospital. They
made fresh limeades so I drank a lot of those during that time period.
MF: That is a good thing.
LB: That was the reward, you know, if you did your studying then you could go.
MF: That is a good plan.
MF: Tell me about curfew. You had a curfew, right?
LB: Yes we had curfew. I think it was ten o’clock.
MF: Ten o’clock you had to be in?
LB: But it really was never any problem for me.
LB: I didn’t do a lot of things during the week. A lot of my friends had gone to other
places to other schools so I didn’t have much contact with them—we just did
things as kind of a gang. “The Nurses,” that is what everyone called us.
MF: That is great. Do you remember any traditions at all associated with the hospital,
maybe during the holidays? Was there anything that you could think of?
LB: You know, some of the things that they had established tradition-wise, went by
the way, got fewer and fewer as our class became smaller.
MF: That is what a lot of people have said.
LB: It was just kind of a relaxed atmosphere.
MF: It was nice to be able to do your work and you could feel like you could have a
LB: Oh yes.
MF: Enjoy yourself.
LB: Oh yes we did a lot of things—just spur of the moment things.
MF: At this time were you required to attend church at all?
MF: Okay so it was a choice. So tell us about your capping ceremony.
LB: I have some pictures of it. It was nice. It was a nice ceremony. Miss Scoville
gave us our caps.
MF: And where did this take place?
LB: In an LDS Church that was close.
LB: That was where I went to church all of the time. But that is where it was held.
MF: Now this was when you had been in for six months, right?
MF: This was after you had completed your probationary period.
MF: Tell us about graduation. What were some of your impressions about
LB: Well it was nice. We sang and had speeches and so forth and said the pledge
and that type of thing.
LB: My present husband gave me a pretty wrist watch right afterward so that was a
made it extra special.
MF: Good. How many graduated with your class?
LB: I think there were seventeen. I am not positive.
MF: I forgot to look that up. Now while you were in training were you paid any
money? Did you get any stipend at all?
LB: I worked because I had worked as an aid. Not all the time but when they would
need someone extra I would work.
MF: That is good to know.
LB: In fact, that is the way I got through. Our schooling cost us six hundred dollars.
That doesn’t sound like anything.
MF: But back then it was.
LB: But we had to have two hundred and fifty to start with or something and I had
worked and saved money but I was still short. My brother, a year younger than I,
was selling cookware and gave me a hundred dollars and that was enough that I
MF: Get started.
LB: …started and going. A lot of times I worked just enough during the semester to
pay for the next semester’s tuition.
MF: Oh good. That is perfect.
LB: So I inched my way through.
MF: That is how that works. After you graduated did you stay at the Dee? What did
you do after?
LB: I stayed for a short time. I worked on the women’s surgery floor where we had
forty patients. It was me and an excellent aid.
LB: That was all.
MF: Oh wow.
LB: Finally, I had a doctor jump on me because he had left the stat order and I hadn’t
got to it for quite awhile. I never left work on time. I worked until the minute that
the shift was over and then I did my charting and all my stuff like that. It would be
two in the morning a lot of times when I went home.
MF: Oh my goodness.
LB: Finally, I just said, “I am afraid I’m not going to take good enough care of
patients.” I could just see that—especially when a stat order sat there for that
LB: But it was down under and had this big stack of charts over it and I didn’t see it.
MF: You had lost it.
LB: So I quit. I think they hired three people then.
MF: Oh there you go. So after you had done everything.
LB: Well after they could see that that really was too much for one person.
MF: Yes. Oh that is a crazy thing.
LB: Yes. So I went and worked in a doctors’ office for a couple more months and
then we moved.
MF: Okay so where did you end up after that? Did you move back to Idaho? How did
you end up in Idaho?
LB: I got married two weeks after we graduated. And lived in Ogden through that
winter and then my husband and I moved to Ohio. I worked that summer in a
medical floor at a hospital in Ohio.
MF: That is good to know. So when did you retire?
LB: I retired in ’89.
MF: What were you doing when you retired? What was your last job?
LB: We moved quite a bit. We moved from there to Washington and I worked in the
emergency room up there. Then we moved to Utah and I worked at the Dee
Hospital periodically for a summer or so. Then I worked—after my last child was
born in ’65, at the Dee for six to eight months and then we moved again to
Washington State. I worked there sixteen years part time in the emergency
room. I worked Friday and Saturday afternoons.
MF: Oh good.
LB: Then we moved to Rexburg, Idaho and I started working at the college. It is BYU
Idaho now but it was Ricks then. I worked in the health center. The next
summer they needed someone full-time so I went down to Utah to Provo and
took their College Health Nurse Practitioner course for six to eight weeks in the
summer and the rest of the whole year we did case studies and that type of thing.
I got a license there. It wasn’t licensed in Idaho because I didn’t have a degree.
I could have had it here if I had had a degree, didn’t matter what in.
MF: But as long as you had your Bachelor’s?
LB: Yes. Then I worked for nine years at Ricks doing physicals and things for the
MF: Did you like that? Was that enjoyable?
LB: I didn’t do any teaching—it was a neat place to work.
MF: That is great. How do you think nursing has changed over the years?
LB: Well I think we did what LPN’s do now.
MF: That is true.
LB: That is just about the level that we were. We did a little more—well no because
they do a lot of taking care of instruments and stuff now, you know, your IV’s and
things like that. Now they have the responsibilities that an RN had then.
MF: Exactly. You were bedside nurses for sure.
MF: Very well trained in that aspect.
LB: I got tickled. Someone was telling me about this nurse that got a
recommendation because she had put in a program where they rubbed the
patients back at night and talk to them and that kind of stuff. A new program?
MF: And you are like, “That is called PM care.”
LB: They had kind of been lost in the interim—physical contact with the patients so
you knew what family they had and where they worked, etc.
MF: That is absolutely true. Can you think of anything that was maybe your greatest
challenge while you were going through the nursing program?
LB: Well—I was always glad when the tests were over and I had passed.
MF: That is always a relief.
LB: Yes. I think sometimes some of the situations we had tore at your heart—I
remember a few—one was a little boy who had been locked in a car and the car
caught on fire. His face was burned off. He had a lot of scarring and he was in
the hospital for a long time. I wondered afterwards—when I learned of someone
that wore a hat with a big veil over it, he was a photographer who took animal
pictures and I often wondered if that was him.
MF: Maybe so.
LB: I have to tell you something else.
LB: When I was in OB and in the nursery—the preemie nursery—there were some
gypsies that were in town and a woman came in and had a baby girl—she must
have been 1 1/2 – 2 pounds, a little thing. She didn’t have any flesh on her
hardly but she had a little round face with dimples.
MF: Oh my goodness.
LB: She stayed there and the mother came back two or three times to try and get the
baby and they wouldn’t let her have it because it was under four pounds and they
didn’t know what would happen to her. When she had the baby the elders of the
group said, “Kill it because it is too little to live.”
MF: Oh my goodness.
LB: They were afraid to let this baby go into that situation. Finally she came back
and said, “I can’t come anymore, we are going back to Europe.” So she left the
baby in the hospital.
MF: Oh wow.
LB: Years later my daughter and I were talking about people we had known and she
said, “An older couple had adopted a little girl that was a gypsy,” and she said
she was raised by them but she really had a lot of problems because all her life
she felt like she had been deserted by her mother there was another gypsy baby
that had been deserted at the hospital about the same time and she thought it
was her. I said, “What does she look like?” She said, “Well she is a little heavy.”
I said, “Does she have dimples?” She said, “Oh yes, she has really deep
dimples.” I am sure that that was the baby I knew.
MF: Wow that is crazy.
LB: Isn’t that crazy?
MF: That is a crazy story.
LB: I mean it was years later and our daughter lived down in Orem and had run
across this girl. I told my daughter to tell her the real story.
MF: That is interesting. It is a small world, isn’t it?
MF: That is crazy. That is so interesting. It has been so fun to be able to interview all
of you nurses.
LB: Oh I bet.
MF: It has been so fascinating.
LB: Everyone has a different tale.
MF: Oh they have the funniest stories. We had just laughed so hard and some things
have made us cry. It has just been wonderful. We have had a great opportunity
this has been to be able to interview all of you. We have to get your stories
completed, we have got to get them compiled. We appreciate you taking time for
us. We appreciate that. I am sorry that I was late. I apologize about that. Is there
anything else you have thought of that you would like to share with us?
LB: One summer my dad flew LouAnn and me over to Star Valley and we rode
horses and we got so sun burned our faces were just round. They didn’t have
any features. Dad hardly knew us when he came to pick us up to take back but
that is one great vacation time we had. That was the first year. One of the girls
had quit and she had gone back home, we went up to see her. And then I had
the opportunity one summer to go with a group from BYU that helped put on the
pageant at Palmyra, New York. I was back there for a couple of weeks. That
was a very different experience from what I had been doing.
LB: It was a good opportunity, I enjoyed it.
MF: That is great. I appreciate you taking time for me today. I will let you get back to
your doings for today.
MF: I am going to send you a paper so that you can sign it and we will have an
envelope that is already postage-paid so you can sign it and stick it in. That is the
release form. I will send that out to you and if you have any other thoughts or if
you have some pictures you would like to send to us, whatever you would like to
LB: Those pictures are all scrapbooked.
MF: That is alright. I appreciate you taking time for me and I hope you have a great
MF: Alright, thanks Leona. Bye.
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