Some are nearly 100 years old and graduated when FDR was president.
It may not be a surprise then that graduates of the E.W. Sparrow School of Nursing will reunite Saturday, May 14, at the University Club in East Lansing for the 95th, and final, time.
“It will be a sad occasion, but everybody’s getting older and the number of people attending has been dwindling,” says Bonnie Clark, a member of the class of 1960 who has never missed a reunion since she graduated. “It had to stop sometime.”
The school operated from 1901 until 1961 in a building next to Sparrow Hospital on Michigan Avenue. It graduated 1,017 nurses, about 350 of whom are still living. The oldest, who’s 99, graduated in 1937. Clark says about 100 people are expected to attend the final reunion, which begins at 11:30 a.m.
The fact that the student Nurses lived at the school and worked together at Sparrow fostered a close bond among the students of each class, Clark says. “We were like a community. We all slept in the dorms and worked at Sparrow. We felt a real loyalty to the hospital because we lived and breathed Sparrow.”
The graduates became Caregivers at Sparrow and also served in both World Wars, as well as the Korean and Vietnam wars. They provided care to victims of the 1927 Bath School bombing and served on the front lines of the 1940s/50s U.S. polio epidemic.
“Just think of all the care those Nurses provided,” Clark says.
After graduation, Clark worked at Sparrow, beginning her career in the days when Nurses wore caps and capes.
“I still have them,” she says.
Clarks’s two daughters also went into nursing.
Although the class reunions are coming to an end, the School of Nursing’s name will live on.
The alumni have established an endowed scholarship fund through the Sparrow Foundation. The scholarships will fund advanced education for Nurses working at Sparrow.
“This is our legacy,” Clark says.
Choose Wisely. Choose Sparrow.