Willie Mae Jacobs, a Liberty County native and Liberty Regional Medical Center employee with nearly 50 years of nursing experience, recently celebrated her retirement with family and friends in the LRMC cafe.
“We thank you for what you’ve done to give her long life and the honor of seeing a day of retirement that many people never get to see,” LRMC Director of Laboratory Services and Liberty County Commission Chairman Donald Lovette prayed during the invocation. “We thank you for the lives she touched … who will always remember the loving touch that a nurse has given to them.”
Colleagues, friends and family members packed into the cafeteria to celebrate Jacobs and listen as her peers reminisced about their favorite memories and the traits that made Jacobs such a beloved figure within the LRMC family.
“I will have to say she is, without a doubt, one of the best people that has ever worked with me,” said Ann Groover, the director of nursing services. “She always came if we were short of help. (The doctors) knew that when she had their patients, they were well taken care of.
“We will miss you, Willie Mae,” she continued. “You’ve earned it, so enjoy it.”
Sandy Wells, a fellow LRMC nurse, offered moving remarks about the mentorship Jacobs had provided her as a young, impressionable nursing assistant.
“She took me under her wing and showed me what it is not just to be a good nursing assistant or a good nurse, but what it was to be a good person and to truly take care of people,” she said.
State Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway, also read a resolution honoring Jacobs for her dedicated service to the nursing profession.
Mary Ann Wells, Jacobs’ sister, spoke about Jacobs’ drive and work ethic. She said that Jacobs, who graduated from Liberty County High School in 1963, worked various jobs — including a stint at the Midway Museum — before deciding to join the military.
Jacobs served four years in the Women’s Army Corps as a nurse, stationed at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas.
After her military service, Jacobs returned home to Liberty County and took a job as a certified nursing assistant at Liberty Memorial Hospital, which later would become Liberty Regional Medical Center.
Jacobs served as a CNA in the medical/surgical and emergency departments until 1990, when she graduated as a licensed practical nurse from a nursing school in Jesup. She served her remaining years at LRMC as an LPN.
Jacobs retired from LRMC after 46 years of service, having worked at the hospital from 1967-73 and again from 1974 until her official retirement date of Jan. 2, 2015.
“I’m going to miss everybody,” she said. “We were like a little family. We had our ups and downs, but we always got back together and made things right.”
Jacobs said she looks forward to retirement and offered words of advice for up-and-coming nurses.
“I always say, ‘Think of how the patient feels and listen to what they have to say, and really hear what they have to say,’” she offered. “Sometimes you’re listening but not really hearing. … You really need to listen and hear what they’re trying to tell you.”