- Associated Press - Sunday, May 21, 2017

MONROE, La. (AP) - A piece of St. Francis history - a cape from the nursing school - returned to the hospital at the end of National Nurses week.

The family of Loye Boulware Love journeyed to Monroe for the presentation of the cape and to honor their mother, who died in October at the age of 91.

“Our mother was in nursing school in 1946, and we are donating her cadet cape,” Jan Basham said. “It’s very important. She graduated here.and had a lifelong love for nursing. She passed away in October, and we wanted to bring it back.”

Two sets of Boulware twins, Loye and Floye and Billie and Jimmie, graduated from the St. Francis Sanitarium School of Nursing. The twins, born 18 months apart, were so similar that the older pair wore black gloves and the younger pair white gloves so others could tell them apart.

Love was accepted into the school in 1943 and completed her nursing degree in 1946. She later worked at the Green Clinic, where she met her husband, Stratton Love. The couple married in 1951, and Love put her nursing career on hold to follow Stratton’s career in the oilfield.

When the couple later returned to north Louisiana for Stratton to pursue an electrical engineering degree at Louisiana Tech, Love briefly resumed nursing with a stent on the night shift until Stratton graduated, and the family, which now included a son, Dean, and twin daughters, Jan and Ann, relocated to New Iberia.

According to the family, even though Love’s “career” ended, her love of nursing did not. Love volunteered at a local hospice, served as the neighborhood nurse and a Girl Scout nurse and sat with sick friends. She baked cookies and cakes to give to local nursing homes, members of her church and her friends.

Until the end, Love dispensed medical advice and gave injections.

Basham credits her mother with inspiring her to become a nurse. Love also served as a source of encouragement for countless nursing students who she would write weekly letters to while they attended her old school.

Kayla Johnson, chief nursing officer at St. Francis, said the cape’s return was a great way to end National Nurses week.

“It is the absolute best way … being able to see how someone who originated from the nursing school here has impacted so many lives over the years, living to 91 years old and, at 91, still being seen as the one to take care of others,” she said.

Johnson said nursing is truly a vocation, not a job, and Love exemplified that through the positive impact she had on generations of nurses.

Love’s cape will be preserved at St. Francis and may become part of a future display on the hospital’s fifth floor.

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