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Published: Monday, 8/29/2005

Nurse was ardent patients' advocate

Maureen Williams, whose award-winning career as an oncology nurse ended with her living out her final days in the care of her co-workers, died Thursday at her Point Place home. She was 65.

Ms. Williams died after a nine-month fight with ovarian and pancreatic cancer, family members said.

A veteran of three area hospitals, including Riverside Mercy Hospital, St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center, and Toledo Hospital, Ms. Williams settled on the latter for the last two decades of her career, working in the oncology outpatient department.

While there, she was known to be a caring and tenacious advocate of her patients who gave it to them straight.

"She kept on the doctors. She bugged them until she got what she wanted," said her husband, Richard. "She wanted to take care of people. That was her calling."

"She was to the point, and thorough," said her daughter, Dominique Mariano. Her other daughter, Krista, added, "She was gentle, but wouldn't sugar-coat anything."

Ms. Williams began her nursing career after graduating from nursing school in 1961 from Providence Hospital in Holyoke, Mass. She'd been born in Pittsfield, Mass., and graduated high school in nearby Lee, Mass., in 1958.

From Holyoke, she moved on to practice nursing in New Orleans; Laguna Beach, Calif.; and later at the 20th Station Hospital in Nuremberg, Germany, where she met her husband, to whom she was engaged after a six-week courtship.

Upon returning to the states in 1967, the couple settled in Toledo, where Ms. Williams kept working until she was diagnosed with cancer last year.

After being diagnosed, she was cared for by the co-workers whom she had worked with for decades, allowing them to help her through her chemotherapy.

"It was devastating that one of our very own could be so viciously attacked by a disease we had worked with for so long," said nurse Mary O'Keefe, a co-worker of Ms. Williams at Toledo Hospital for 23 years. "We just couldn't believe it. We said, 'This can't be happening.' But the reality was we knew it was happening. We gathered around her."

"She was a nurse's nurse," Ms. O'Keefe added. "So much of what she did seemed to come so naturally. It's not something she did, it's something that came from her heart."

Ms. Williams received two "Excellence in Oncology Nursing Awards" from Toledo Area Oncology Nursing Society during her time at Toledo Hospital.

Survivors include her husband, Richard; son, Richard; daughters, Dominique Mariano and Krista; sisters, Sister Mary Regina Thomas, and Roberta Dyer; and brother, John Thomas.

She was a member of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Point Place.

Visitation will be after 2 p.m. Wednesday at the David Jasin Funeral Home. Services will be at 10 a.m. Thursday in St. John the Baptist Catholic Church.

The family suggests tributes to The Victory Center, Hospice of Northwest Ohio, or the church.



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