Doris Helen Koonce Kuehn began life on Monday, July 30th, 1928, in the tiny Texas Panhandle community of Fluvanna. In spite of being a child during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, and a teenager in World War II, Doris Helen enjoyed her early years playing with a stray pet cat, beating her two older sisters in hotly contested games of Chinese checkers, and listening enthusiastically to radio broadcasts of operas and Joe Louis fights. A quick study, she skipped two grades at Denton High School and graduated at the age of 15. During her short high school career she was a standout on her high school debate team, played older women in the school’s drama club performances (because of her low, mezzo-soprano voice), and won women’s doubles tennis championships.
Doris Helen’s oldest sister, Ruth, was severely diabetic. Once, when Ruth went into a diabetic coma far away from a hospital, Doris Helen saved Ruth’s life by calculating the proper dose of insulin and injecting Ruth with it, reversing the coma. Shortly after this Doris Helen signed up for the United States Army Nurse Corps, graduating from her training in 1948 to care for World War II veterans.
When she was 21, working as a registered nurse at John Sealy Hospital in Galveston, Texas, she met a young doctor working on his residency and married him. That relationship produced Stephen, Gregory, and Jenny.
Later, as a single mother supporting three children, Doris Helen worked as a nurse for numerous hospitals, the Veterans Administration, and many nursing registries for over fifty years.
She had an impressive talent for mimicry and frequently spoke her mind, often with comic results. She felt emotions intensely, demonstrated great compassion for her patients, and although she was blessed with an extraordinary memory for events, dates, and facts, she made a special effort to forgive those who wronged her. She was fond of dance, poetry, dramatic movies, classical music, Texas, California, and Las Vegas slot machines, but most of all, she deeply loved and was devoted to her three children.
She touched many, many lives with her kindness, and she is dearly missed.