Retired nurse, now in nursing care, recalls career as she celebrates 100th birthday

Lewisburg, Pa Thursday August 3, 2017

Helen Buck was just 5 or 6 when her mother was contacted by her teacher.

“I wondered if I had done something wrong, but my teacher just wanted to tell her that I was a good reader!”

And, over the next 94 or 95 years, she has remained a lover of reading. In fact, as she recounted her life experiences after having turned 100 in early June, she sat with a book on her lap.

Smiling, the Buffalo Valley Lutheran Village resident held up the hardcover, entitled Little High, by Luanne Rice.

“I just started this one,” she says. “I read whatever the librarian gives me. She knows what I like.”  Pointing to a copy of The Choice by Nicholas Sparks that lay on her bed, she notes that “I just finished that one.”

Born in Philadelphia, Helen and her family moved to Bloomsburg when she was just a child.

Just as her love for reading began at a young age, so did her desire to become a nurse.

“I knew early on that I wanted to help people. It all started when we were visiting my great aunt, who lived on a farm. My younger brother, who was only about 6 or 7 at the time, was running through the barn. He didn’t know anything about farming. He fell through a hay hole and broke his leg,” she says. “My parents sent me for the doctor and from that point on, I wanted to learn how to take care of others.”

After completing high school, she began nurse training and was immediately hired by Geisinger Hospital as a pediatric nurse. In fact, she spent much of her adult life as a Geisinger nurse.

“There was such a need for pediatric nurses that I almost always had to work overtime,” she says.

“I feel well ... and am just happy to be here!”

Her job responsibilities varied from day to day. She could administer medicines, monitor temperatures, clean wounds or help clear airways of children who accidently ingested objects.

“I gave babies their shots—DPT then MMR.” she says still remembering the acronyms for the diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough) and tetanus vaccines as well as the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine.

 “Seeing entirely pediatric patients, I never knew what to expect. All in the same day I could hear ‘I don’t like you’ from one little kid I gave a shot to … to another child saying, ‘You have helped me so much. I want to give you a kiss.’”

Mrs. Buck has been an avid reader all her life.

Despite the highs and lows of her career, she says, “I never thought of nursing as being a privilege. I looked at it as my obligation.”

Equally important has been her love for family. She and her late husband, Miller Buck, had a son, Charles Raymond Buck, who died from complications of diabetes.

“Faith in God gets you through those hard times,” Mrs. Buck says today.  

Surveying the many cards she received for her recent birthday, she adds that “friends are important too. I feel blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life. They keep me going.”

In fact, she notes, “turning 100 doesn’t bother me one bit. I feel well. I guess I have a positive outlook on life. I am just happy to be here!”

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