Mary Elizabeth Henderson (BASc(N) ’29)

Mary Henderson was the youngest in a family of four children. She attended Queen Mary School in West Point Grey and Prince of Wales High School before entering UBC where she enrolled in the BASc (Nurs) program. In 1944, she joined UNNRA (United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration) along with three other UBC graduates: Lyle Creelman 1936, Heather Kilpatrick 1931 and Frances McQuarrie 1936 (see photo, above-mentioned names present L-R, Mary far right). Traveling first to London, Mary was assigned to the El Shatt Refugee camp in the desert near Port Said. At the camp there were approximately 26,000 Yugoslav refugees, the majority women and children. The nursing staff slept in tents on army cots. Mary’s responsibility was to supervise the public health nursing program in the camps. In April 1945, she was transferred to Greece on the outskirts of Athens where there was a great deal of malnutrition, tuberculosis as well as malaria.

In 1945, Mary returned to Canada and resumed her work with the Metropolitan Health Services as supervisor of the School Health Service in Greater Vancouver and then became Director of Nursing until she retired in 1965. In an interview in 1988, Mary stated there was very good public health service and excellent doctors and public health nursing leaders. “It was run by nurses who graduated from UBC and who had very good background and training.”

Material provided by the BC History of Nursing Society archives