When Martha Darnell, received her award letter, she called the college ecause she thought it was a mistake. And that is part of what makes her such a worthy Hall of Saints inductee.
In a world filled with noisy voices and the idea that more is always better, Martha graduated from SCCC in 1980 with her LPN, and went straight to work, quietly serving her community. Forty years later, it’s daunting to guesstimate how many newborn babies she cared for during her many years working at Southwest Medical Center on the OB floor. She worked with Dr. Harrison, Dr. Stout and Dr. Knudsen, and their baby combined baby counts exceed 50,000; a realistic guess for Martha’s tally, then, is somewhere around 20,000.
But none of that was on Martha Barr’s mind when she came to live in the original dorm housing at SCCC. She was one of eight children, and after completing high school at Southwestern Heights of Plains, she wanted to have the college experience. Her memories include being crowned Homecoming Queen, playing in the pep band, singing in choir, meeting students from all walks of life and geographic locations, with different backgrounds and beliefs that were very different from the “black and white” world of her childhood.
She remembers the cafeteria workers preparing early-morning breakfast sandwiches for her when she had to go to the hospital for a shift work, and a sense of warmth and acceptance from instructors and staff. And she met her husband, Jim, who played baseball and graduated a year ahead of her.
The couple raised two daughters, Ashleigh and Kelsey, both of whom attended SCCC before transferring to state universities. “We just told them, ‘you’re going to SCCC unless you’re paying for it,’ and they did,” Martha remembered. “And they liked it.” Martha’s work as an LPN was satisfying, particularly nursery duties with newborns in the “fishbowl” environment, and educating new moms about nursing and infant care. “It can be messy and exhausting and frustrating. If you could just take care of the baby, that would be the greatest, but there’s also paperwork, standards of care, staying on the schedule. You do have to step back sometimes and say, this is the most important thing for these people, the beginning of their life as a family,” and I hope I was nice to them.” Hundreds, even thousands of mothers in the community can vouch for the fact that she did a great job.