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Serving others was her life legacy

By Staff | Apr 6, 2012

Nurse and nurturing start with the same three letters and both words applied to the late Jeanette Mygland. Sadly, this public health nurse died from burns she received in a fire in her home on Saturday, March 17 in Rugby.

It didn’t seem right for the nurse who so compassionately took care of others to die so tragically. But life isn’t fair. This lady who was always joking around, according to friends and family, left a wonderful legacy of serving others.

She graduated from nursing school with Sylvia Heidlebaugh in 1954 and remained friends with her throughout her life.

“We were kind of a rascally bunch,” said Heidlebaugh, of her eight classmates in the nursing program at Good Samaritan Hospital in Rugby.

The ladies stayed in a dormitory which is now used as a medical professional building and houses several offices for people in the health profession. The nine women enjoyed a camaraderie along with their schooling. Alice Hersey, Rugby, and Alice Shively were the two Alices in the class.

Heidlebaugh relates one incident of how they got a break from their studies.

“I laid on the operating table and Alice Hersey had a knife she held over me and a picture was taken,” said Heidlebaugh. “I still have that photo.”

As part of their nursing program they were sent to Trinity in Minot, St. Paul, Minn. and Chicago for various parts of their nursing education.

One time when the ladies were driving somewhere, they came upon a minor accident.

“Well there’s nurses in this here car,” quipped Mygland. To which the other ladies started laughing. Her friends say she was pretty funny.

“We cracked up pretty easily in those days,” reminisced Heidlebaugh.

From 1954 -1959, Mygland was employed at Good Samaritan Hospital. On February 28, 1959 she married Bennie Mygland. In those days, when women got married they quit their jobs and became homemakers. Mygland was a farm wife and had much to do on the farm where she raised a garden.

“She loved living on the farm, ” said Linda Childress, current Pierce County Nurse who worked with Mygland for 13 years.

The Myglands raised their three children on the farm by Pleasant Lake. The twins, Byron and Barbara were born on January 19, 1960. Later, their son Mike would be born. Mike and his wife, Robyn provided three grandchildren for the happy grandmother.

According to Heidlebaugh, when the twins were born, Barbie was a bit small and Byron was more average weight. Mygland had quit her job in September, 1959 about eight months after she got married and had to change her insurance. The twins were born in January of 1960 and the insurance had been changed in September. The insurance company said they would only pay for Barbie because she may have been premature (because of her tiny size) but not Byron. Mygland thought that was very funny and liked to tell the story of how the insurance paid for Barbie, but they had to pay for Byron.

After Bennie died at age 53 on May 17, 1978, Jeanette and the three children moved into town. In 1982, she became the public health nurse for Pierce County, a position she held for 22 years.

“She was truly a great nurse to work with,” said Childress. “She was well-liked and immunized many children and their children, too. She always remembered all of the kids’ names. She had a remarkable memory for names.”

Heidlebaugh said that Mygland becoming a public health nurse, after her husband died, was her calling. “She was kind of a people person and very kind and compassionate,” she added.

Childress remembers a very funny and yet stubborn woman. “We would drive somewhere and she would say, “I am not going to stop and get gas.” Then she would be mad at herself when she ran out of gas.

“She was a great Norwegian cook,” added Childress. “She would bring the best donuts to work. We always waited eagerly to see what she had baked that week.”

Mygland would say to Childress, “There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t make a pie.” And people knew that and would stop by for a piece of pie.

Childress goes on to explain that when Jeanette was told something she didn’t quite believe she would say, “Yeah, poof!”

“She was very reliable, always there and she had many life challenges to deal with,” said Childress.

“She was such a nice person and funny,” said Heidlebaugh.

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