Debbie Dodge passed away in January in the Port St. Lucie (Fla.) hospital where she had been a nurse for 30 years, far away from her hometown of Hazel Hurst.
“She was loved by staff and patients alike,” her obituary read, “and received many awards and commendations for her caring and excellent work.”
Dodge’s cousin, Cheryl Lutz of Bradford and Lutz’s husband, Rick, have decided to honor Debbie’s legacy of caring by establishing a nursing scholarship in her honor at Cheryl’s alma mater, Pitt-Bradford.
The university will award the scholarship annually to a student in either the associate of science in nursing or the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at Pitt-Bradford. This year’s recipients were Jacob Billisits of Pittsburgh and Amyra Mohamed of Anaheim, Calif.
Cheryl, an only child, grew up near Debbie and her sister, JoEllen Eck of Hazel Hurst.
“We were very close,” Cheryl said. “We spent much time together when we were younger. Debbie was two years younger than me, and Jo and Debbie were like sisters to me.”
After high school, Debbie was working for Backus Co. in Smethport when she developed kidney stones. During her treatment, she decided to become a nurse, then went to St. Francis School of Nursing in Allegany, N.Y., graduating in 1989. She worked briefly at the Bradford Nursing Pavilion before moving to Florida.
Cheryl said her cousin was known not only for her caring for patients, but also her caring for her coworkers. “She would work most holidays so that her colleagues could be home with their children,” she said. “She hardly ever had a holiday off.”
When Debbie became ill, she eventually ended up staying on the same floor of Port St. Lucie Medical Center where she had worked for more than three decades.
“They just loved Debbie, and they all came in to wish her all the best,” Cheryl said. Dodge’s colleagues made a scrapbook with pictures of everyone she had worked with for her.
“What they wrote was just beautiful,” Cheryl said. “The people she worked with were her friends. My cousin Debbie would be so pleased and proud that she is still helping others.”
To contribute to the Debbie Dodge Memorial Nursing Scholarship or to learn how to start a Pitt-Bradford scholarship, contact the university’s Office of Philanthropic and Alumni Engagement at 814-362-5091 or visit upb.pitt.edu/giving.