Margaret Hebert Berian

September 22, 1912 - September 15, 2003.

Jane Hebert Mudge recalls her aunt's story:

Aunt Margaret was my father's younger sister. She had her 90th birthday on September 30, 2002. That means she would be 104 years old if she survived until today, Monday, June 27, 206. During the early 1900s, she was the oldet daughter of 3 brothers and two sisters. They all lived with their parents in a house near the West Quincy quarries. Remarkably, several other family members, visiting Irish relatives and friends, found a welcoming place and stayed there too, as many others did in those needy, "Great Depression" times.

In the late 20s, whle Margaret was still in school, she worked as a page at the West Quincy branch library. After graduation she was employed full time, first at the Norfolk Down's branch and also as a substitute librarian at other locations, as needed.

Later she worked on a regular daily schedule at the main library's "Richardson" building in Quincy Square. Until 1943 when she entered the Cadet nursing program at the city hospital she was assigned to the Music Department, which was located in a small room at the top of the library stairs. There she helped establish one of the few libraries with music recordings and equipment available to the public, where machines could be used to listen to records in soundproof, private, auditing rooms.

Margaret would give record concerts in the evenings with commentary about the musical offerings. She was allowed to travel to the Boston Music Company and research whatever she could find in print, of the many classical and contemporary musical pieces available. The company's helpful employees introduced her to the "gramophone record compilations" which aided in the historical basis she needed to catalog the entire group of recordings.

During this time Margaret was hired and continued in her musical interests as the organist at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Quincy, where she gathered a detailed knowledge of church and organ music.

As you can guess by the dates above, Margaret entered the Cadet Nursing program rather late, and was older than most of her classmates. She was 31 years old. But when World War II happened and her brothers and uncles were entering the Navy and the Army, she felt a need to do something to help out the war effort herself.

At her 90th birthday, I gave Margaret several gifts, one was a book entitled, Cadet Nurse Stories, which tells the tales of some of those Corps members who were organized to provide for the urgent need for nurses during World War II.

After becoming a nurse, and the war having ended in 1945, Margaret was inspired to go further in her career and became a physical therapist. She trained at Columbia University in New York, helping with the well known Sister Kenny nurses, to rehabilitate polio victims during that devastating epidemic, before the Salk, and other vaccines to prevent polio were perfected.

While in New York, she met her future husband, married, and had 3 children. They moved to Hartford, Connecticut, where the family remained while the kids were growing up. During that time she worked as a school nurse and made many friends in the profession and in the community. One of her twin daughters, Claire, born when Margaret was well into her 40s, studied and became a doctor of veterinary medicine, graduating from Cornell University where she met, and eventually married, a philosophy professor.

When Margaret retired she continued to enjoy playing the piano and entertained at local nursing and retirement homes, singing, along with her husband, to the old, familiar tunes of the 30s, 40s, and 50s.

I'll always rmember her giving me my first book. It was a book of poetry by Robert Lewis Stevenson, A Child's Garden of Verses. I recall this line especially, "The world is so full of so many things, I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings." 

Margaret certainly made that statement come true in her own life, as so many of her peers did. She was always a special mentor to me. I, too, beame a nurse, graduating from the same nursing school at the Quincy City Hospital, way back in 1954, not very long after Margaret had become a Cadet. And I also enjoy singing at local nursing hoes and other venues, as well as being a member of the poetry group that meets monthly at the Quincy Thomas Crane Public Library.

Thanks for listening.


Last Name in Nursing School: 
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Relationship Status: 
Cadet Nurse
Deceased Cadet Nurse: 
Nursing School: 
Quincy City Hospital, Quincy, Massachusetts
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