More than 45 family members, friends and colleagues recently gathered at The Harmar Place Community, a United Church Homes skilled nursing center, as the Ohio’s Hospice Nursing Honor Guard honored Argyle Clarke, a patient of Ohio’s Hospice at United Church Homes.
Family members traveled from as far as North Carolina to witness the tribute to Clarke who was honored at her bedside by the Ohio’s Hospice Nursing Honor Guard. Dressed in the traditional and historical blue nursing cape, white uniform and cap, the Ohio’s Hospice Nursing Honor Guard honored Clarke for her career in nursing.
“The Ohio’s Hospice Nursing Honor Guard honors our patients who are nurses. Nursing is giving of oneself to enhance the lives of others,” said Kristy Tocknell, executive director of Ohio’s Hospice at United Church Homes. “We join today to honor, you, Argyle, and your commitment to caring. We want to formally acknowledge your many years of service as a nurse. Your accomplishments can only be measured in the lives you affected through dedication and perseverance.”
Clarke was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she grew up with her brothers. She was the valedictorian of her high school class, and the superintendent encouraged her to go to college at a time when few of her female contemporaries went on to higher education. She was the only one in her family to go to college. She graduated cum laude from Maryville College in Tennessee with a degree in biology, and then from the Duke University School of Nursing on June 2, 1952. She met her husband, Robert Clarke, at Duke University where he was pursuing his Master of Divinity degree. They married in 1950.
As the wife of a United Methodist pastor, she served in many Ohio congregations. “My mom helped serve in the various congregations where my dad served over the years,” said her son, Wes Clarke of Marietta, Ohio. “So much of her life was dedicated to service, whether it was the congregations she served, her family or her patients.”
She spent much of her married life working in the home, but also worked as a registered nurse in hospital, emergency room and psychiatric settings. Her commitment to the nursing profession was further displayed by her participation in a Harvard University longitudinal study about nurses’ health. Even after her retirement in 1975, Clarke continued to care for others by volunteering with hospice and Red Cross blood drives.
During the Nursing Honor Guard ceremony, Tonia Worley, team leader at Ohio’s Hospice at United Church Homes, read the “The Nightingale Pledge,” an oath taken by nurses to uphold the ethics and principles within the nursing profession. Nichole Hutchinson, RN care manager at Ohio’s Hospice at United Church Homes, read a poem about nurses. The Ohio’s Hospice Nursing Honor Guard presented Clarke with a lantern and a pin.
“The Nursing Honor Guard of Ohio’s Hospice would like to honor you, Argyle. You have served selflessly and dedicated your life to nursing,” Tocknell said. “Though your nursing tasks are complete, they are not forgotten. It is our honor to express our respect for you as a nurse and our gratitude for the care that you have given. We formally thank you for your service.”
Teresa Billingsley, director of nursing at The Glenwood Community, where Clarke lived previously, also shared a touching tribute to Clarke. “There are so many people walking around today rich with treasures of memories of Argyle,” Billingsley said. “She touched many with her kind smile, her gentle demeanor, and her giving heart.”
The ceremony ended with a floral cake served to those in attendance. Hutchinson brought the homemade cake to share. Nurses in the Ohio’s Hospice Nursing Honor Guard pushed a cart of refreshments through the halls of The Harmar Place Community, serving the other nurses and aides on duty.
Wes Clarke expressed how grateful the family was to the Ohio’s Hospice Nursing Guard and the staff of Ohio’s Hospice at United Church Homes and The Harmar Place Community. “The Nursing Honor Guard ceremony was a beautiful recognition at the end of her life. It meant a lot to our family, and it meant a lot to Mom. She was honored to be recognized for her nursing career,” he said. “This was an incredible event. We’re so appreciative of the staff.”
Ohio’s Hospice at United Church Homes and The Harmar Place Community were honored and privileged to recognize Clarke with an Ohio’s Hospice Nursing Honor Guard ceremony. She died at the age of 94 on April 30 at The Harmar Place Community surrounded by her family.
Ohio’s Hospice and United Church Homes partnered in 2019 to create a not-for-profit Medicare-certified hospice program serving residents facing life-limiting illnesses in United Church Homes senior living communities. Through shared values, mission and cultures, we work together to offer seamless continuity, superior care and services to residents and their families. Ohio’s Hospice at United Church Homes is an affiliate of Ohio’s Hospice, a partnership of mission-driven, not-for-profit hospices committed to a shared vision of strengthening and preserving community-based hospice care.
For more than 100 years, United Church Homes has been committed to providing quality housing and services to older adults. Today, UCH is the 22nd largest multisite, nonprofit senior living organization in the U.S. according to the 2022 LeadingAge Ziegler 200 ranking, serving nearly 7,000 residents in its more than 90 owned and managed market rate and affordable housing communities in 15 states and two Native American nations. United Church Homes leads with its mission to transform aging by building a culture of community, wholeness and peace for those it is privileged to serve.