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Hastings native Rosemary Ahern observes milestone birthday

by Jane Lightbourn • Staff writer

Rosemary Ahern celebrated her 100th birthday on Sept. 21.

It has been a full life for Ahern. She was a nurse in the military and has since been an active volunteer in the community. She’s enjoyed playing cards, gardening and golf.

For many years Rosemary has lived at the Regina Residence, surrounded by many of her familiar things and with family and friends nearby.  

Born in Nininger Township, Rosemary was the third of Edward and Johanna Ahern’s children. She had her first contact with the nursing profession when she was 5. She had been run over by a Model T and was taken to the Latto Hospital for treatment.  

“I had a special nurse who was on 24-hour duty,” she recalled in a November 2002 interview with the Star Gazette. “Then, too, I had cousins who were nurses who influenced me.”

Ahern attended Guardian Angels School and graduated from Hastings High School.  She then enrolled in St. Joseph’s Hospital School of Nursing. Following schools, she stayed at St. Joseph’s for a short period. Then she took a Civil Service exam and went to work at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Chicago. The hospital was a large one for veterans who had mental illness problems.

When the Red Cross began its recruitment for nurses for its Army Nurses Corps, Ahern was quick to apply. Following training, she was commissioned as second lieutenant and was assigned to O’Reilly General Hospital in Springfield, Mo. After six months she was promoted to first lieutenant.

Eventually, she was assigned to foreign duty, and served on a ship — actually, the ship was the entire hospital with seven different wards.

In France, the 200th General Hospital was assigned to the Grand Hotel in Paris. The nurses lived about a block away. When the war ended, the hospital was reassigned to Heidelberg

Ahern received her discharge in 1946 and joined the Army reserves. She returned to St. Paul and went to work at the old Anker Hospital on the city’s east side.

Ahern returned to school at the University of Minnesota and earned her degree. She was a staff nurse at Family Nursing Services in St. Paul before being recalled to Walter Reed Hospital.

Later she returned to Family Nursing Services, which would merge with Ramsey County Nursing Service. She retired in 1978 and returned to Hastings to live.

In Hastings, she became active in the Regina Auxiliary and American Cancer Society. She enjoyed playing bridge, gardening and playing golf.

Family celebrated with her on her special birthday.