Elsie G. Rhodes
Elsie Rhodes poses for this picture taken in 1989. (Submitted photo / March 16, 2013)
“Lots of people called the house for medical advice,” said son Douglas “Doug” Rhodes of Hagerstown.
Oldest son Michael “Mike” Rhodes of Hagerstown said Elsie would stay overnight in the hospital with family and friends on her own time to help out.
“She was very comforting, very professional all the time,” Mike said.
A stickler for the traditional white uniform and nurse’s cap, her sons said she was an “old-school nurse.”
“As a rule, she kept us on the healthy side. Our urgent care was here,” said James “Jim” Rhodes, her husband of 56 years.
Raising two sons, Elsie and Jim had some medical issues to deal with. Mike was hospitalized when they lived in Frederick, Md., because of an infected carotid gland in his jaw.
Doug cut his chin open several times in the same place, requiring stitches. He also broke a toe moving risers at the middle school.
“He was tough, but she was right there,” Mike said.
Born in Chambersburg, Pa., Elsie was the youngest of four children. She graduated as a registered nurse in 1954 from Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, where she first worked.
She started out as a medical-surgical nurse, then worked in obstetrics-gynecology, the area in which she worked most of her career. Elsie’s next job was at Chambersburg Hospital.
Meanwhile, Jim was in the U.S. Navy, stationed in Norfolk, Va. He was born in Hanover, Pa., and his family, which included four children, moved to Hagerstown in 1939 for his father’s job with Western Maryland Railroad.
Jim would return home on weekends and leaves, and he met Elsie in the latter part of 1955 while “hanging out” at the Varsity in Rouzerville, Pa. After he was discharged from the Navy, he worked at C&P Telephone in Hagerstown.
The couple married in October 1956 and settled in Hagerstown, where they lived until Jim’s job took them to Frederick from 1961 to 1968. Elsie worked at Frederick Memorial Hospital during those years until they returned to Hagerstown.
Starting in 1971, Elsie worked with Dr. John Turco, then went back to Washington County Hospital for several years. Dr. George Manger joined Turco’s practice in 1975 until opening his own practice in 1981, when he hired Elsie.
“The right word to describe her is awesome,” Manger said by phone. “I can’t do justice to what she meant to me early on. She and another nurse ran a hugely busy practice and she did everything until 1994. She was an authority figure, but in a supportive way. What she stood for was very honorable. She was honest, upright and righteous.
“She’s a credit to the medical profession.”
Elsie retired in 1994.
When the family moved back to Hagerstown in 1968, they bought a home on Woodpoint Avenue in the West End. Both sons graduated from North Hagerstown High School.