Aug. 9, 2023 | iCare Newsletter
by Bullseye Media

A Legacy of Servitude

Doris Lee Hornsby Billups was one of those people for whom the word servant is an inadequate description.  Her story of selfless service and profound impact is inspiring new generations with the establishment of an endowed scholarship in her honor.

“Mom gave a significant part of her life to St. Mary’s Medical Center,” said her daughter Nancy Billups Burley, “She advocated so strongly for the power of education for women during a time when most females didn’t pursue schooling beyond high school.  That’s why my husband and I wanted to create an endowed scholarship as a living memorial to her.”

Burley and her husband, Doug, had already given funds for several $1,000 stipends before they established the Doris Lee Hornsby Billups Endowment Scholarship for students at the St. Mary’s School of Nursing in December of 2021.

“Mom was an amazing nurse,” said Burley, who was born at SMMC, where her mother served for 18 years as the head nurse in orthopedics. “She believed in human contact, which means so much. The students who get this award will be recognized for that contact and direct patient care.”

While their endowed gift will take three years for the interest to generate ongoing income, Nancy and Doug will continue offering scholarships during the interim. That’s because of their passion for St. Mary’s, which in Nancy’s eyes, continues through people like Sister Mary Grace Barile (Vice President of Mission Integration) and the values taught at the School of Nursing.

Ironically, Billups never intended to go into nursing, as she dreamed of becoming a home economics teacher. World War II changed her plans, with her father convincing her to sign on to the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps, created by Congress in 1943 to meet a critical nursing shortage. “The nursing shortage in World War II was why Mom became a nurse,” Burley said. “We’re in the same boat in health care today. I encourage people to do anything they can to step up to the plate.”

Billups never got to serve in the Navy, because the war ended before she graduated from St. Mary’s School of Nursing. Still, her degree launched a four-decade-long career that would take her through an obstetrical clinic in Milton, a hospital for crippled children, St. Mary’s and International Nickel, where she helped provide medical care to employees.

“We are so impressed with the nursing school and Mom was so impressed with the nurses who graduated from St. Mary’s,” Burley said. “Mom always said, ‘there’s no nurse like a St. Mary’s nurse.’ It’s the compassion they show and their hands-on care.”


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