Lorene Farmer, age 91, of Meadville, died Monday, June 22, 2020, at St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City.
Funeral services will be Friday, June 26, 2020, at 11:00 a.m. at Wright Funeral Home in Brookfield with Pastor Rex Leppin officiating. Burial will be in Meadville Cemetery in Meadville. The family will receive friends on Friday from 10:00 a.m. until the time of service.
Memorials to The Baptist Home or Gideons International may be left at or mailed to Wright Funeral Home, P.O. Box 496, Brookfield, MO 64628.
Helen Lorene Farmer, the daughter of Martha (Heriford) and Omar Hammond, was born Aug. 19, 1928 in Princeton, MO. She never remembers a time she didn’t work. Her first jobs were on the farm, doing, as most farm children of that time did, everything from plowing to wrapping butter. It was the usual humble beginning on a rented farm, in a house with heat in only 1 room, no bathroom, and waking up where the ice was frozen in the pitcher. What they did have was a strong work ethic.
When she was 16, and a Sr. in HS, the family had saved enough to buy a farm and move to Meadville. To stay in Princeton, she became a caretaker for Mrs. Bailey, for which she received $3/week, and her room. It was the first time she had a heated room of her own, electricity and a bathroom. She later moved to Mrs. Millers and paid $15/mo. for a room with cooking privileges. Unfortunately, she also, while playing a chaperone to a cousin, went wading in April and ended up with rheumatic fever, was completely bedfast for 3 mo, too weak to attend her own
graduation, and left with a damaged heart for life.
She wanted to be a nurse (although her dad thought she should be a lawyer) and deliberately went to a “quack Dr.” and got him to sign that she was physically fit, in spite of barely being able to stand. She had been an exceptional student in H.S., if the math teacher was gone, they had her teach the class, so it was no surprise she was accepted General, but was a shock to later learn that all the rest of them had to take a test to get in. At barely 17, the youngest in the Cadet Corp program destined for WW II, she hadn’t even known of the test. The war ended before classes began so there was a question of it being funded, in addition a number of the students soon had TB causing others to leave the program in fear, not mom. It was 3 solid years, 24 hours a day of training, college, and work. The remaining 12 students would remain friends for life, starting, and maintaining a rotating packet of letters called the “Round Robin”, for over 50 years.
She, and her best friend, CJ, did have one problem, never having had Chemistry in HS, weren’t doing well and, out of 400 or so, were called to the Dean’s office and informed they either weren’t trying or weren’t capable. The amazing thing was mom had somehow actually gotten a D on the test. It scared the daylights out her so she studied all Christmas Vacation and ended up with a B in the class. They were orig. paid ~ $15- 20 and never earned more than $30, along with room and board, while taking classes and working over 40 hrs/week. There were some perks though. One man completely redid her teeth. He was becoming a dentist and needed the practice. She’d always had cavities until then and never had problems after that. She also had an emergency appendectomy, for free. She had a week off and went back to work with the wound oozing.
The last 3 months at General was spent in the Isolation unit, the head nurse had resigned so she was put in charge of block long unit. It was during the polio epidemic and each iron lung had to have an individual RN, so she taught the Kansas City nurses how to use them. She had been told by Mrs. Clark that “no one was indispensable”, so when she had stayed on after graduation for 8 days, working for the Polio Association, and Mrs. Clark tried to get her to stay on, but she already had a job as Director of Nursing at the minute hospital in Princeton, she responded with the same quote.
She passed State Board at 20, but, at the time, you couldn’t legally be licensed, until you were 21, so she had to wait a year to learn the results.
From AUG 1949 – JAN 1950, she returned to Kansas City, to General and was the head nurse in Ear, Nose, and Throat Surgery. She had been popular in nursing school with the interns and they knew her work. The Orthopedic surgeons also wanted her as their head nurse. They solved the issue by beginning to schedule their work on different days, making sure she was head of both departments. It was also during this time that she had a nose job. She had broken it when young and one of her friends, a plastic surgeon, kept begging her to let him fix it for free. She finally took him up on it.
Although she had never felt the call, she had been told she should be a missionary, so she decided to prepare, just in case. From JAN 1950 – NOV 1951, she went to Northwestern in Minneapolis, MN, while Billy Graham was President there. She took 19 hrs/sem, while working 2-3 shifts/week at Eitel Hospital in OB, teaching a children’s Bible class, practicing piano 3 hrs/day and earning her room and board as house mother.
When she returned to KC for a wedding, Mrs. Clark was there and told her she needed to be teaching and hired her to teach at General. At that point teachers taught and worked as staff. From FEB 1952-3, she taught and occasionally acted as Supervisor, for an 8 hr. shift, of the entire 600 bed hospital. From DEC 1953 – JAN 1954, Hedrick Medical Center in Chillicothe tried to get her to come as Director of Nursing. She worked the different shifts to consider and evaluate the nursing care and turned down the position, along with a report of recommendations.
In 1954, she and Alvina Harrison, also a nurse transported a car to CA and took the long way home ending up in FEB 1954, in Odessa, TX. She worked in OB, then evening Supervisor of the entire hospital. She loved it, but Alvina didn’t and it wasn’t a safe place to be, so they left in OCT 1954, again taking the scenic route home.
FEB 1955 she was working 3-11 at St. Luke’s in KC and attending Calvary Baptist, as was Archie Farmer. His sister had tried to get him to meet her, so he wasn’t interested, but that changed when he saw her. On their first real date, he started getting “smoochy”, she slapped him, and he knew he would marry her. She had planned on going on a world cruise with Alvina, but instead married daddy in OCT 1955. She always regretted not taking the cruise, but never regretted marrying Arch, and they did plenty of smooching. In the meantime, she had progressed to Supervisor and Instructor at St. Lukes. When she resigned to have Linda, they paid her full salary to come back and teach one hour a day for five days /week. They claimed she had enough vacation to cover the cost.
They decided the city wasn’t safe for a child and moved to Meadville, living with her parents until they could get possession of the farm they bought. They had been told never to have another child, but they had Peggy anyway, placing her on extreme bedrest for 3 months before I arrived, 3 weeks late and weighing 9 lbs, 14 ¼ oz. and 22 in. long. The 3 months had to be spent in KC, and the last few weeks within a few blocks of the hospital. With Linda only 1 ½ yrs old, the separation was very hard. They were hoping for twins, but the Dr. said if I was, he’d drown one of me. She was in congestive heart failure for a large amount of the time and my birth nearly killed her.
FEB 1961, she returned to work, at Pershing Hospital in supposedly as a part time, 3-11 Charge nurse. She resigned in JUL 1962 as her dad had died and her mom was sick and needed her.
APR 1963, she was asked, and against her better judgement, started the Trenton School of Practical Nursing. She was supposed to have had another teacher but that person had come down with shingles and excused from coming in. That left mom with one week to come up with the entire program and teach totally by herself. She quit after that year. In 1965, Mr. Ferguson, tried to get her to start a school of nursing in Brookfield, after they had contacted the State Board of Nursing and they had recommended her for the job. She wasn’t interested so they hired her as school nurse instead. That lasted from SEP 1965 – FEB 1966, at which point she started the Brookfield School of Practical Nursing. They were trying to get people off of welfare and were putting people in the school regardless of capability. She eliminated them right and left so they started to pressure her. She resigned, along with the rest of the staff, at the end of the year, and became school nurse at Meadville for the following year. In the meantime, another person had taken over the program. Mom received a pathetic call wanting her to come back. She looked over the students and agreed, but with the provision it would be run her way and if anyone tried to tell her what to do, she would leave and never come back. She remained until AUG 1972. Regardless of the school, she never had a single student flunk State Board, a record few can equal.
In 1972, she was diagnosed with systemic lupus and began consultant work for a nursing home in Marceline for 4 hours/week. MAY 1973-May 1974 she worked at St. Francis Hospital in Marceline as Inservice Director. In 1974, they’d asked her to become the Director of Nursing, but she needed some major surgery, so they held the job for her. She had that job from SEP 1975 – 21 AUG 1977. During that time, the county set up its own Ambulance Board, not liking the current situation. To make sure it was run as it needed to be, she ran for office and was not only elected, but made Chairman. The following election she refused to run, but was elected anyway, the public simply wrote her in. She hadn’t wanted the post and, after serving 6 months, realized just because she was elected, she didn’t have to serve, and resigned. Hedrick Medical Center in Chillicothe called and wanted her as Director of Nursing and thus began a rather comical bidding war between the two hospitals –comical because while she was simply analyzing the pros and cons, they kept raising the salary. She was at Hedrick from 15 SEP 1977 – 22 OCT 1985, when she theoretically retired. In reality she worked as a substitute nurse in Independence two days a week to cover the enormous insurance cost. The hospitals loved her as they could put her in any position and knew she’d be fine.
In addition to being an amazing nurse, she was also an excellent Bible teacher, a very good cook, and had a glorious soprano voice, that without meaning to would ring out over the entire church. Often, when visiting a church, her uncles or brother would stop and ask her to sing with no advanced warning. She hated the lack of time to prepare, but we loved hearing it. Unfortunately she lost the voice several years before she died. Mom had fallen in love with the piano at an early age, been given lessons from an excellent teacher in Princeton, and honed the skills at Southwestern in Minneapolis. She gave lessons, was church pianist, and music director, for many years. One of our fondest memories is of waking up to her beautiful playing. Strokes would take that from her as well.
Please note all of this was done while she was in atrocious health. She had repeated close calls with death from congestive heart failure, to extreme hemorrhages, where more blood was coming out then went in, to blood clots in her lungs. Atrial fib so bad that I could physically see it heaving her chest. She was in pain for the majority of her life, and not just from broken ribs, hip, vertebrae, or ankle. She literally defied death for 75 yrs, looking like a pincushion from all the places they’d tried to find another place to start an IV, and scars from all the surgery. She was an amazing lady. She taught us to love God, work hard in spite of whether you felt like it or not, and to fix what needed fixing. She was our mom.
She leaves behind 2 daughters: Linda Hueffmeier and Peggy Farmer, 3 beloved grandchildren: Chad, Brett, and Derek Hueffmeier, 1 niece: Karen Muck, and 3 nephews: Eugene and Rick Hammond, and Jimmy Farmer.
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