Lucille S. Spalding (1902 - 1989)

Lucille S. Spalding
Lucille S. Spalding, 1942

Lucille S. Spalding grew up in St. Louis and taught kindergarten prior to entering the Washington University School of Nursing. She graduated in 1931 as a registered nurse, and completed a B.S. degree in Nursing in 1935. Spalding joined the staff of the St. Louis Maternity Hospital as a staff nurse in 1931, and was quickly promoted to assistant head nurse and then head nurse. By 1936 Spalding was superintendent of nurses at the hospital as well as an instructor of Nursing at her alma mater. In 1939 Spalding left St. Louis for Western Reserve University in Cleveland, where she earned a master’s degree in Nursing and was an assistant professor of Nursing.

In 1940 Louise Knapp, the director of the Washington University School of Medicine, asked Spalding to consider leading the nurses of the 21st General Hospital, an army reserve unit of doctors and nurses associated with Washington University. At the time Spalding declined the offer due to her commitments at Western Reserve University. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, however, Spalding agreed to return to St. Louis and become chief nurse of the unit, which was activated on December 24, 1941. By the end of January 1942, Spalding led the initial group of 55 nurses to Ft. Benning, Georgia, where the 21st General Hospital was to receive training. Spalding led the nurses of the 21st General Hospital throughout the unit’s service in the war, returning in October 1945 after 36 months overseas.

Spalding left the service with the rank of lieutenant colonel and returned to academia – first joining the faculty of the Washington University School of Nursing, where she served as assistant professor of Nursing and as superintendent of nurses, Barnes Hospital. In the summer of 1951 Spalding resigned to accept a position at the University of North Carolina Hospital. She returned to Missouri to join the faculty of the University of Missouri – Columbia in 1956 as associate professor of Nursing. During her tenure, Spalding served as director of the Graduate Nurses program and assistant to the dean of the Nursing School. Spalding retired from the University of Missouri as professor emeritus of Nursing in 1967. The following year her colleagues, friends and students established the Lucille Spalding Scholarship Fund in her honor. Lucille Spalding died in 1989 at the age of 87.