Bettie Jean Howard, a retired registered nurse who worked in the field of endoscopy and gastroenterology nursing, died Feb. 2 of complications from a stroke at the Cottage of Perry Hall, an assisted-living facility. The former longtime Cockeysville resident was 93.
The former Bettie Jean Knight, the daughter of Milton J. Knight, a motor oil foreman for the Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey at its Baltimore works, and his wife, Elizabeth Knight, a sales associate at Stewart’s department store, was born and raised in Dundalk. She was a 1943 graduate of Sparrows Point High School and earned her nursing degree from the old Church Home and Hospital in 1947.
She began her career at Johns Hopkins Hospital, working with Johns Hopkins surgeon Dr. Alfred Blalock, who developed the pioneering blue-baby surgery. In 1952, she joined the endoscopy department, also at Hopkins.
For a decade, Mrs. Howard left nursing to raise her five children, returning in 1966 as a part-time emergency room triage nurse at the University of Maryland Medical Center, and then was asked to join the staff of its newly established Looper Specialty Clinic, where she became an expert in endoscopy and gastroenterology nursing.
When the clinic closed in the late 1990s, she continued endoscopy nursing in other departments at the hospital and served as scope coordinator and developed a patient quality assurance program.
She became a member in 1976 of the Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates, for which she wrote articles, served on committees, and served as its president from 1988 to 1989 and of its certifying board in 1993.
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In 1991, she was presented the organization’s Gabrielle Schindler Award, which recognizes “commitment and professionalism in patient care.” When she retired in 1997, Gov. Martin O’Malley proclaimed a day in her honor in recognition for her 50-year nursing career.
She was an active member for 60 years of Grace United Methodist Church, where she and her husband taught Sunday school and served on committees.
She is survived by a son, Roderick Howard of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; three daughters, Elizabeth Shaner of Perry Hall, Amanda Martin of El Dorado Hills, California, and Mary Howard-Strobel of Charlestown, Rhode Island; two brothers, Richard Knight of Dundalk and Jerry Knight of Hagerstown; and 11 grandchildren. She was predeceased by another daughter, Sarah Little Howard.