Gregory has volunteered at St. Mary for 49 years

Published 11:49 am Monday, April 30, 2007


Age: 95

Occupation: St. Mary Hospital volunteer

Fast fact: It’s difficult to separate Gregory from her beloved pink jacket.

Quick Quote: “It’s been very rewarding.”

By Darragh Doiron

The News staff writer

Mary Lou Gregory is pretty in pink.

A St. Mary Hospital volunteer for 49 years, she still wears her favorite pink coat, despite a corporate switch to purple when Christus assumed ownership.

She’s petite, and she says it fits her better. Adorned with a long row of service hour pins, the symbolism for loving care is what suits her so well.

“It’s been very rewarding,” Gregory said.

Her primary spot now is the grand greeter in the gift shop. Her smile welcomes visitors as they enter to browse among jewelry and inspirational knick knacks.

In her quiet voice, she shared her memory of how her volunteer “career” began.

“I wanted to be a nurse, so I went to the St. Mary Hospital on Lakeshore Drive. I went to enroll for nurse’s training. I was getting married and they were not taking married women. I thought that was so strange. You had to be single to go in nursing training,” she said.

She decided to keep Buster, and volunteer as a Pink Lady instead.

Always fond of children and babies, she told how she cared for the children of patients. She’d play with them and feed them so their families could concentrate on the patient.

Gloria Lazard, volunteer coordinator, says the staff is well aware of Gregory’s contributions.

“She’s a treasure to our volunteer department. She truly exemplifies the spirit of Christus,” Lazard said.

Gregory remained modest. “I’ll get my paycheck in heaven,” she said.

Born on Palm Sunday in Opelousas, La., she moved to Texas with parents Mary Emily and Rene Quebedeaux.

“We came to Port Arthur in 1913. I’m the last living member of my family. I’m the 11th of 13 children,” she said.

Gregory and her husband Buster were married 72 years when he died. They included their sons-in-law as family.

“We had two daughters, Betty and her husband, J.C. May and Janell and her late husband, Shu Farris. We had 9 grandchildren, 21 great grand and two great-great grandchildren,” she said.

The religious support at St. Mary has also inspired Gregory, she said. She’s especially fond of the chaplain, the Rev. Don Donahugh.

“We all love Father Don at the hospital chapel at St. Mary. He’s very generous with all his blessings and he’s always there for us when we need him. He’s been a big inspiration,” Gregory said.

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