Mary Lou (Lois) Mathison
Celebrating Generations of Birthdays
Mary Lou(Lois) Mathison - First Baby Born at Lancaster Memorial Hospital
Next year will mark 65 years that Grant Regional Health Center has been serving the healthcare needs of this region. On September 19, 1955 a brand new hospital opened its doors in Lancaster and the dream of a rural hospital to serve the surrounding communities became a reality. This important anniversary also means a very special birthday coming up for the first baby born at the (then) Lancaster Memorial Hospital. Miss Mary Lou Mathison was then and will forever be known as "Princess" and as the first baby to come into the world at Lancaster's new hospital on September 20, 1955 - she will always be a celebrity in the eyes of our community.
Mary Lou Walker, RN recalls being the nurse on duty to help deliver the very first baby born at the hospital. The doctor wasn't able to make it to the hospital on time - so Mary Lou, RN was instrumental in bringing the little girl into the world. Parents DeVerne and Mary Kay (Kay) Mathison were so grateful that they affectionately named their baby after her nurse Mary Lou. The pretty little, dark-haired baby girl weighed 6 pounds, 8 ounces. Newspaper clippings actually listed her birthdate and time incorrectly but history and her official birth certificate shows she came into the world at 12:40 a.m. on September 20, 1955 – just one day after the hospital officially opened. The news spread far and wide about this special birth and the family was grateful for the shower of attention and “mountain of gifts” from nearly every business, firm, and merchant in town. Gifts included clothing, canned baby food, toys, as well as a $25 government bond and $4 savings account – which were considered very generous at the time. She was also given the distinction as head of the Baby Alumni of ’55.
Over the years, stories of her peppered the newspapers as she grew up before our eyes. When the hospital celebrated its 10thanniversary – Mary Lou and her parents were there to help commemorate the occasion. She was featured in the newspaper article with her photo and details of her life as a 5thgrader at St. Clements: she enjoyed romping with her dog Mandy and playing with her five sisters and one brother. She reported that she had only been back to the hospital twice - to have her tonsils out and a mild case of pneumonia when she was nine. Mary Lou’s family relocated to Stoughton in 1967 and her parents later moved again to Iowa. She worked as a dental hygienist to pay for her bachelor’s degree in Interior Design, and has enjoyed a long career planning higher education and health care related facilities.
65 years later (almost), Mary Lou lives in Philadelphia, PA. Even though her address is no longer Lancaster, she says a part of her heart will always belong to our town. She was gracious enough to reinstate her crown and tell her story. We appreciate her taking us down memory lane as we take a look back to remember and recognize all the families touched by our hospital as we helped bring new lives into the world. 64 years of special deliveries = 12,657 (and counting) bouncing baby boys and girls have been born at our hospital - each one with a unique story of their arrival. Some came early, some waited patiently for Mother Nature to help them along. Some babies may have had a complex delivery - aided by our skilled and compassionate staff of doctors and nurses. Some were born during the day and many were in the middle of the night. Our OB staff is intricately trained and ready to respond at a moment’s notice with experience to handle the delicate nature of whatever situation may arise.
Mary Lou says it’s wonderful to hear that our local hospital is making the investment and renovating our OB suites. She encourages Lancaster and surrounding communities to join her in supporting this important renovation project. This project means enhanced maternity care, new technology and added features for so many. What a better way to help make the most wonderful time in families’ lives - even better, brighter and more comfortable. Mary Lou was happy to be highlighted in our OB Renovation campaign, mostly because “I consider it a tribute to my parents, after all, I had not much to do with it,” she says smiling.
At Grant Regional Health Center, patients can not only expect excellence of medical care, but the kind of care you receive when the staff are invested in their patients experiences, in addition to successful outcomes. Help us continue to create happy BIRTHdays for future generations to come by clicking on the donate now button and making a donation to our OB renovation campaign. To learn more about the Obstetrics Renovation click here.