Looking west along 12th Street from Walnut. FRED L. HANEY | Photo by KCHistory.org

Dean Hughson

The single mother had 4 children ranging in age from 4-11 years of age and was living in the Chouteau Housing Project, the red brick apartment buildings on the north side of Independence Avenue, just west of The Paseo in Kansas City. She worked as a nurse’s aide at Conley Maternity Hospital near Independence Avenue and Garfield, which was  part of the Osteopathic College. She usually worked the 11 pm to 7 am shift so she could walk home 5 blocks and help get the kids off to school, fed in the evening and helped the kids with their homework.  

Money was tight. Early in December 1960, she turned up sick and it was discovered she had had a mild heart attack. She was advised to stay home but how would she feed her children? The family doctor, Dr. William Hand, who had an office on St. John Avenue, was also her co-worker at Conley.  He quickly got involved and put coffee cans around the hospital telling people their donations were needed. 

He surprised her with enough cash for her to stay home for two months plus extra money for small Christmas gifts and special food for the family’s holiday.  Her co-workers checked on her well being the whole time she was off work. She went back to work and lived 53 years longer; a well lived life with grandkids and successful kids. 

How do I know this story? That woman was my mother Patricia Hughson. Every holiday I think of Dr. Hand and her co-workers’ amazing support of a family. It taught me to help others, which I do. 

May your holiday be a good one; as good as 1960 Christmas was to 4 small kids who woke up to a miracle.  Happy Holidays.

Dean Hughson resides in Fountain Hills Az and is a NE Class of 1969 alumni  deanhughson@gmail.com