After 72 years of service, one nurse is finally going into retirement.
Alice Graber started her nursing career during World War II and just retired last month at the age of 93.
“It’s always a thrill when you can help somebody else,” Graber shared with Today.
After Graber’s retirement, over 150 people showed up to honor her service. They surprised her at the Salem Mennonite Home, part of an assisted living home where she was working last.
“I didn’t know what to think,” Graber shared. “I was just flabbergasted.”
Shirley Knodel, the administrator and director at Salem Mennonite Home, shared that Graber was the oldest nurse in the state.
“She touched a lot of lives,” Knodel said. “She smiled the whole time, even though it was overwhelming to her.”
At the celebration for Graber there were babies she helped deliver and retired nurses who she trained. They all showed up to honor her services and the work she put in over the years.
“We realized one of the children she delivered was now 52, and his parents still remembered like it was yesterday,” Graber’s daughter, Sharon Waltner, 67, explained.
Graber had a rough life growing up as her father died when she was nine and her mother when she was 14.
“I didn’t have a very good life growing up, but my mother always said, ‘You’ve got to get an education,”’ Graber said. “I felt that it was a gift that I got into nurse’s training.”
During her career, Graber worked in four different hospitals in South Dakota. Her last job was at an assisted living and nursing home, where she was older than most of the patients.
“She taught us a respect in putting the patient first, which is always what you want,” said Knodel.
Although she is now officially retired, Graber doesn’t plan to slow down. She still helps out at the assisted living home a few nights a week and volunteers for a few other places in town.
“As a daughter, I’m sorry I did not inherit the Energizer bunny battery she has,” Waltner said. “I joked that if she just worked in assisted living for a few more years, perhaps she could take care of me when I was admitted.”