|Ellen summarized the four sisters in the above photo, left to right:
Joanne is the oldest. She was the talented child – played the piano and sang opera. She became an OR nurse.
I’m next oldest. I was the fun child, the cheerleader and party girl. I went into management.
Then there’s Kathy, who hated school but went on to become a psych nurse.
And last, 20 years younger, was the surprise child, Laurie. My dad thought he was finally going to get a son– surprise! She’s the smart one who loves technology, and she teaches computers and tech.
As for how they all ended up as nurses, that goes back to their upbringing. The quick answer is that both parents worked in a hospital. But, Ellen told us the story behind that story:
“We grew up in Wisconsin, in Manitowoc. Mum and Dad both worked at a hospital – Dad did maintenance and Mom was a CNA [Certified Nurse Assistant].
“Mum was brilliant. She was valedictorian of her high school class and got a scholarship to the University of Wisconsin. This was 1930, and that didn’t happen back then. But she got so homesick after half a year that she moved back and got training to be a CNA.
“Dad spoke German till he was five and had to leave school after the sixth grade to work on the farm. He was the one who told us as we were growing up, ‘You have to get an education. I will somehow pay for it, but you have to get an education and be able to take care of yourself.”
How did that excellent dad-advice turn into four nurses? “Back then,” Ellen said, “women didn’t have much of a choice: you either became a teacher or a nurse.” Even so, it wasn’t so straightforward for Ellen. “I was a party girl and a screw-up in school. I didn’t want to go on to school after high school. But Dad told me ‘You have to be able to support yourself in case something happens.’ And he also told me, ‘You always get in trouble, but you always get yourself out of it.’”