Parkland Hospital's First Black Nurse Dies

Ollie Lee Mason was 107 years old

By Andres Gutierrez
|  Friday, Feb 8, 2013  |  Updated 7:55 PM CDT
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A Dallas family is remembering the loss of Ollie Lee Mason, she was the first black nurse at Parkland Hospital. Mason dies this week at the age of 107.

Andres Gutierrez, NBC 5 News

A Dallas family is remembering the loss of Ollie Lee Mason, she was the first black nurse at Parkland Hospital. Mason dies this week at the age of 107.

A Dallas family is remembering the first black nurse at Parkland Hospital.

Ollie Lee Mason died last week at the age of 107.

"She was doing what she does best, and that's taking care of others," said Leah Young, Mason's granddaughter.

Mason turned nursing from a profession into a passion.

She graduated from nursing school in Washington, D.C., in 1929 and returned home to work as the chief nurse at her father's sanitarium, one of the largest at the time.

Then, in 1937, Mason became the first black registered nurse at the old Parkland Memorial Hospital, serving as a night supervisor in obstetrics division.

"She had an optimistic view of life, so she managed well with the others, and she was promoted shortly after she was hired," said Eva McMillan, Mason's sister-in-law.

That move set a path for the future.

"She already had laid an amazing framework, and so that was something that many of us over the years were able to easily fall into and excel within," said Pamela Ford, a registered nurse at Parkland Hospital.

Mason's granddaughter remembers her grandmother as a strong and diligent woman.

"From the time she woke up in the morning to the time she went to bed, everything was calculated; everything to be in its right place," she said.

Mason died Jan. 30.

"I watched her take her last breaths, and they were little breaths at a time, and she just faded. It was beautiful," Young said.

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