Nurse Pays It Forward 50+ Years Later

 Don and Charlene Lee

Donald Lee says were it not for his wife’s nursing education at NorthShore Evanston Hospital’s School of Nursing back in the 1960s and her career that followed, the couple would not have been able to start his engineering business, which turned out to be a success.

Don and Charlene Lee moved to California years ago, but the Lees recently made a generous gift from a charitable trust to support NorthShore’s Nursing Scholarship Fund. “We met on a blind date,” said Don. “It was a patient Charlene was taking care of that suggested we get together. We did, and married two years later. Because of her wonderful education, she was able to support us—and that allowed me to start a consulting engineering business.”

Charlene, who worked in the Operating Room at Evanston Hospital for a year, was named “Student Nurse of the Year” in 1962. She said it is important to her and her husband that her nursing education allowed her to work in a nurturing environment for almost 30 years.

“We’re both so appreciative of the education and scholarships Charlene received,” said Don. “We wanted to give back to help other nursing students in today’s world who might be struggling to fund their education.” 

“The Lees’ thoughtful gift is one of the most generous contributions our nurses have ever received,” said Mary Keegan, RN, MS, who is Chief Nursing Officer at NorthShore. “It's heartening to know the lifelong impact a great education can have on a student.”

A record 38 nurses received scholarship awards in 2016, and a total of 300 nurses have received scholarships to date. Recipients use the $3,000 award to cover class registration fees, books, even child care or transportation expenses to support them in the pursuit of their ongoing education and advanced degrees, added Keegan.

“As healthcare gets more intricate, this program not only supports the professional development or our individual employees, but also prepares students to meet the complex needs of the patients we're privileged to care for,” said Keegan.

A planned gift to NorthShore University HealthSystem—through your will or trust—is a meaningful way to pass on your values to future generations. To learn more, please call Kathleen Chappell, NorthShore Foundation Office of Planned Giving, at 224.364.7211 or email her at

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