JOHNSTOWN — The Elizabeth L. Brawley Nursing Scholarship Fund awarded two high school students with nursing scholarships in June. It was the first time the fund was able to give the scholarships and for one family, it was more than just giving a check; it was keeping their mother’s memory and desire for caring for others alive.
“It was special for everyone involved,” said Dennis Brawley. “To meet these seniors face to face it became obvious they had a passion for nursing and that would make my mom proud.”
Elizabeth “Betty” Brawley was a nurse in the Johnstown area for 42 years. She started out as a “Mercy Nurse.” The former Mercy Hospital is known as part of Conemaugh Health Systems which is now Duke LifePoint.
“She raised five kids and worked full time as a nurse,” said Brawley.
The busy mom was never off of the clock even when she was home. Brawley said he remembers as a kid growing up his mom helping out other youngsters in the neighborhood.
“She had a passion to care for others. She loved being a nurse,” said Brawley. “I remember as a teenage seeing her jump into action to save a stranger’s life that was seizing, keeping him alive until helped arrived. I’ve never forgotten that.”
His mom started out on the maternity floor of the hospital, went back to school to become an X-ray nurse, and ended her career in the nuclear medicine department.
“She also never stopped learning. She kept educating herself.”
Betty had a successful nursing career and family life, become a cancer survivor, ran a retired nurses group, volunteered and was active in her church. Everyone knew her in some way, Brawley recalled.
“Even when she retired, she never stopped caring for others. It’s who she was.”
Dennis Brawley became a part of the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies family in 2013. He volunteers on the Marketing Committee and takes part in the Foundation’s events. A year later, he found himself in a new role within the Foundation.
“My mom passed away November 10, 2014,” said Brawley. “She was in hospice care, which ironically is now the same floor in the hospital the original maternity ward was where she started her career. It was almost symbolic.”
The Elizabeth L. Brawley Nursing Scholarship Fund awards $1,000 to a high school senior who is pursuing a career in nursing. Brawley and his siblings hope to keep the scholarship in their mom’s memory through the Foundation as long as possible.
“We knew she wouldn’t want flowers, so we decided to honor her by starting a scholarship program in her memory,” said Brawley. “It’s the greatest way to honor her.”
The fund continues to grow and Brawley credits the generous donors along with the Foundation for making it possible to start the tribute to his mom.
“My mom would be proud. She used to say, ‘Life is for the living.’ With this scholarship her memory lives on by inspiring future nurses.”