For Margaret Donley, nursing was not just her job. It was her passion.
“She dearly loved being a nurse,” said Donley’s daughter, Amy Adams, BSN, RN-BC, endoscopy coordinator at St. Mary’s Medical Center (SMMC). “It was 100% her calling.”
Donley passed away Dec. 8, 2020. She began her career at SMMC in 1971 after graduating from St. Mary’s School of Nursing. During her time at SMMC, she served in a variety of nursing leadership roles, including Director of Patient Care Services, before retiring as the Director of Organizational Development and Learning in 2015.
“She was a champion for her nurses. She was their voice,” Adams said. “She had a tremendous impact on so many people. She gave the best of herself to St. Mary’s.”
Donley’s family has established a nursing scholarship through the SMMC Foundation with a $50,000 gift in her honor: the Margaret Donley “Little Miss St. Mary’s“ Nursing Scholarship Fund. “Little Miss St. Mary’s” was a nickname given to Donley by her husband, Tom, when the two were dating while she was in nursing school. Married to Margaret for nearly 40 years, Tom Donley is passionate about growing the endowment for the scholarship.
“Mom came from nothing,” Adams said. “The ability to provide financial assistance to someone who needs it and has a true passion for nursing, like she did, is the primary reason for starting the scholarship fund.”
Adams herself has worked at SMMC for more than 29 years, but said her mom did not encourage her to be a nurse, allowing her to find her own way. Adams decided to follow in her mother’s footsteps after working as a unit clerk at SMMC.
“I love being a nurse,” Adams said. “It is definitely my calling, just like with Mom. We have that bond.”
The first recipient of the scholarship, third-semester nursing student Hannah Casto, received $2,500 to help her complete her final semester at St. Mary’s School of Nursing.
“I want to honor the legacy of Margaret Donley,” Casto said. “I am overwhelmed with gratitude to have been chosen for this scholarship and am grateful to the Donley family. This is a huge blessing.”
Donations to the Margaret Donley “Little Miss St. Mary’s” Nursing Scholarship Fund can be made here. Checks may also be mailed to the St. Mary’s Medical Center Foundation, 2900 First Ave., Huntington, West Virginia 25702.