The Center for Nursing at the Foundation of NYS Nurses, Inc. (CFN) notes with sadness the passing of Jill Strawn on December 2, 2021, and Mary Knoll Edgar on January 22, 2022. Both graduated from the St. Luke’s Hospital School of Nursing (SLHSON) in New York City. As members of the St. Luke’s Hospital School Of Nursing Alumnae Association, they led the effort to endow the CFN’s Center for Public Education. After extensive discussion with CFN representatives of a possible endowment, Jill Strawn, in her capacity as alumnae association President declared, “It’s time to transition this engagement to a marriage!” In response, the CFN designated the Center for Public Education as the St. Luke’s Hospital School of Nursing Alumnae Center for Public and Professional Education.
After graduating from the St. Luke’s Hospital School of Nursing (SLHSON) in 1967, Jill earned her bachelor’s degree from Hunter College, a master’s degree from Yale University, and a doctorate in Nursing Education from Teachers College at Columbia University. She held faculty positions at Yale School of Nursing, College of New Rochelle, School of Health and Human Services at Southern Connecticut State University, and Salve Regina University in Newport, RI. While working in a clinical nursing position at Jefferson Hospital, she studied and practiced hypnotherapy, became a student of Therapeutic Touch with Delores Krieger, and developed a lifelong interest in and commitment to complementary medicine.
While at Yale New Haven Hospital she became dedicated to caring for people suffering from HIV/AIDS and organized and co-chaired AIDS Project New Haven (APHN), one of the first community-based AIDS support organizations anywhere outside of a major metropolitan area. In 1985 she co-founded the Connecticut AIDS Residence Program, now known as Liberty Community Services, and in 1986 she set up the first anonymous HIV testing program in Connecticut. Her leadership in addressing the care of patients with HIV/AIDS became a model resource for health care organizations throughout the nation.
A talented vocalist, artist, and avid gardener, she created the website “Tending Nightingale’s Garden”, which features a collection of meditations for nurses and botanical illustrations, both written and drawn by Jill. Her obituary states, “In recent years one of her greatest satisfactions was serving as a “loving whisperer” at The Connecticut Hospice in Branford, sitting quietly by the bedside of people who were actively dying, and, if it seemed appropriate, singing softly to them. Jill reluctantly gave up this labor of love when it became apparent that she might soon become a hospice patient herself.”
After graduating from the St. Luke’s Hospital School Of Nursing (SLHSON) in 1957, Mary earned her bachelor’s degree from Connecticut College in New London, CT in 1981 with Phi Beta Kappa honors. She and her husband Malcolm, a surgeon whom she met while serving as Head Nurse at St. Luke’s Hospital, settled in Norwich, CT to raise their family. She was active in the St. Luke’s Hospital School Of Nursing Alumnae Association, an avid gardener, and a generous contributor to many charities.
Known to family and friends as “Queen M”, she raised three boys, two granddaughters, and one great-grandson as well as many St. Bernard’s and Bernese Mountain Dogs. Her obituary states, “Queen M was strong-willed, boldly confident … but mainly extremely loving and always there for anything her family needed. Her incredible life will be a reminder that one person can make a difference. Queen M will be missed every day.”