Mary Catherine King
When Mary Catherine King was six years old, a high school student whom she idolized decided to become a nurse, so right then, in the first grade, Mrs. King decided she, too, would be a nurse. For more than four decades, Mrs. King served as instructor, educational director, and then director of St. Vincent’s Hospital School of Nursing in Birmingham. During her years in administration, Mrs. King’s special interest was to promote the importance of diploma schools of nursing and their unique emphasis on nursing skills learned at the bedside. During her tenure, she sought and received accreditation of the St. Vincent’s program and increased the enrollment from 100 students in the early 1960s to more than 220 in the 1970s. Mrs. King served on the Alabama Board of Nursing from 1966 to 1978, holding the office of president from 1971 to 1975. She also served as the president of the Alabama League for Nursing from 1964 to 1968, and ALN nominated her as Alabama Nurse of the Year in 1969. At the National League for Nursing, she chaired the Executive Committee of the Council of Diploma Programs. Mrs. King graduated from the Mount Carmel Hospital School of Nursing and received her B.S. degree from St. Mary’s of the Springs College, both in Ohio. In 1960, Pope John XXIII presented Mrs. King with the Pro Ecclesia at Pontifice medal for outstanding service to the Church. The Daughters of Charity, the international order that operates St. Vincent’s, also named her an Affiliate, its highest honor given to a layperson. Mrs. King retired in 1979 but she still makes a vital contribution to the profession, her church, and her community. She continues to be a driving force behind the St. Vincent’s School of Nursing Alumni Association and its scholarship program.