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Published: Tuesday, 5/6/2008

Ex-head nurse was innovator, caring mentor

Victoria Montz, a former long-time head nurse at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center, died Wednesday in St. Luke's Hospital after a stroke following an extended illness. She was 59.

Cathy Wiegand, a former co-worker of Ms. Montz in the St. Vincent vascular unit, said Ms. Montz was a caring supervisor as well as an innovative nurse.

Ms. Montz was responsible, she said, for developing the hospital's vascular "stepdown unit," essentially an area between an intensive care unit and a regular floor.

"That was a new concept at the time," Ms. Wiegand said.

Ms. Wiegand took over Ms. Montz's position after she left the hospital in 1987, and credits Ms. Montz as being her mentor.

"She was a mentor for half the nurse managers at the hospital," she said.

Ms. Montz spent 20 years working at the facility.

Ms. Wiegand, who also attended nursing school with Ms. Montz, said Ms. Montz wanted to be a nurse as long as she could remember and enjoyed working with people.

"That's what drew her to nursing. She really cared about people and what happened to them," Ms. Wiegand said.

"She loved people. She loved to be surrounded by people. She was the kind of person who always hosted the Christmas parties."

After working at St. Vincent, Ms. Montz went on to work as a nurse in a doctor's office, then to be head plant nurse at Johnson Controls in Swanton. She became a licensed Realtor in 2005 and worked for Sawicki Realty.

Ann Marie Newton, a close friend, said Ms. Montz, in her free time, enjoyed a number of interests, such as shopping, taking trips, reading, throwing parties, crafts, decorating her home, and gardening.

"She always had ideas, like 'Let's go pick strawberries,'" her friend recalled. "She always had some kind of interest going."

Her dream was to own her own bed and breakfast, Ms. Newton said.

Another friend, Mary Greisiger, who also worked with Ms. Montz at St. Vincent, said Ms. Montz would frequently host parties at her home for her whole staff.

"She loved to go out to eat, and we went out all the time," she said. "She enjoyed her social life until she got sick, and even then she wanted to go out to eat all the time."

She added, "She was so nice to her staff and so good to people She was very good to everybody."

Denis Pettee, a friend since childhood who became Ms. Montz's guardian during her illness, said many nurses Ms. Montz used to work with told him, "•'I wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for her.'•"

There are no immediate survivors.

Services will be at 11 a.m. today in the Ansberg-West Funeral Home.



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