Evelyn M. "Evvie" Spohn, whose career as a registered nurse caring for patients and their families spanned more than 70 years, died Wednesday of heart failure at Lorien Columbia Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.
She was 93.
"Evvie was really my first experience in nursing homes, and I soon found out she was the consummate nurse," said Louis E. Grimmel Sr., CEO of Lorien Columbia Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, who hired Ms. Spohn in 1977.
"She was caring and always had a positive attitude. She was a wonderful lady," he said. "Words cannot describe what she has brought to people's lives and the patients and staff," said Mr. Grimmel. "She was a people person, and I have nothing but great respect and admiration for Evvie."
Laura A. Waterman is Lorien's director of nursing.
"Her way of life reminded me every day of why we became nurses. She epitomized the values and the best of nursing," said Ms. Waterman.
"She was also a link to nursing history and the greatest generation. She had such a work ethic and was dedicated to her family and job," said Ms. Waterman.
The daughter of William H. Moreland Sr., an insurance agent, and Margaret Moreland, a homemaker, Evelyn Moreland was born in Annapolis and raised in the city's Eastport community.
She was a 1938 graduate of Annapolis High School and earned her nursing degree from the old Hospital for the Women of Maryland on Bolton Hill, which later became part of Greater Baltimore Medical Center.
Initially, Ms. Spohn had planned to be a missionary. During her senior year in high school, an enthusiastic friend who had entered nursing school inspired her to make a vocational change.
Ms. Spohn began her nursing career in 1941 at the Bolton Hill hospital, where she was a staff nurse and later became head nurse on the obstetrics floor.
In 1947, she married Louis Frizzell, who worked for the Maryland Casualty Co., and moved to Cincinnati, where she took a nursing position at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in nearby Covington, Ky.
When her husband was transferred to Louisville, Ky., to manage Maryland Casualty's branch office there, Ms. Spohn joined the staff of St. Anthony's Hospital, where she worked as a labor and delivery room staff nurse for seven years.
They returned to Baltimore in 1954 when her husband became an independent insurance agent and the next year was named regional manager for Manpower Inc. She and her family settled in Edmondson Village and later Catonsville.
Ms. Spohn became an obstetrics nurse at Saint Agnes Hospital and after the death of her husband in 1962, she raised her four daughters alone while continuing her nursing career. In the late 1960s, she became the school nurse at Archbishop Keough High School.
When Ms. Spohn was 50, she overcame kidney cancer and only in recent years required dialysis.
She married William G. Spohn and moved to Columbia in 1973, and took a refresher nursing course at Howard Community College.
She was 57 when she was hired to become the only evening nurse at Lorien Columbia Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, which had just opened.
In a 2001 interview with Advance for Nurses, a nursing newsletter, Ms. Spohn, who was called by the staff at Lorien "Miss Evvie," explained her lifelong affection to the work.
"I love nursing. I absolutely would go out of my mind if I wasn't around patients," Ms. Spohn said in the interview. "You know, it's not the money. It's the satisfaction of helping patients, the good feelings you get from doing the best for others."
Reflecting on the nursing career, she said, "It's not glamorous; it's hard work, and a lot of people don't want to work hard."
Ms. Spohn was also a mentor to younger nurses.
"She would urged the LPNs to go back to school and get their registered nursing degrees. She believed in education," said a daughter, Barbie Brazda of Chesterfield, Va.
"Evvie was an inspiration to us because she was positive and a happy person to be around. No matter what she was going through, she always had a smile on her face," said Eric A. Grinmmel, who is the administrator of Lorien Columbia Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. "She came in December 1977 and worked until 2012.
"When Miss Evvie came to work, she came to work. She insisted on doing meaningful work," said Ms. Waterman.
"Work was the thing that she did. She tried to retire but was so bored, so she had to go back. She wanted to do something that was meaningful," said Ms. Brazda.
"Work kept her going, and it was something she enjoyed getting up for. It also kept her mind sharp," said Ms. Brazda. "And because she was older than most of the patients when she was nursing, she was always being asked, 'What room are you in?' "
Several years ago, Ms. Spohn was given a "Channel 13 Salute" from WJZ-TV for being one the nation's longest-working nurses.
Ms. Spohn retired in 2012 and moved into Harmony Hall, which is adjacent to Lorien Columbia Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.
"But she still managed to keep busy. She'd do a welcoming speech to new Harmony Hall residents," said Ms. Brazda.
Ms. Spohn enjoyed reading, traveling and taking cruises.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Eastport United Methodist Church, 926 Bay Ridge Ave., Annapolis.
In addition to Ms. Brazda, she is survived by three other daughters, Susan Hammer of Chesterfield, Va., Nancy Myers of Ellicott City and Linda Frizzell of Sykesville; 11 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. Her second marriage ended in divorce.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun