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Feature Stories

Inspired Writer Becomes a Nurse

The Life of Dr. Teddy Jones

As a child growing up in rural Iowa Park, which is located in North Texas near Wichita Falls, Dr. Teddy Jones had no thoughts about a possible life-long profession.

It was in her high school years that the University of Incarnate Word alumna discovered that her true passion in life was writing. 

Dr. Teddy Jones
Dr. Teddy Jones

While her father advised her that there was no money to be made in writing, she nevertheless entered an essay contest shortly after graduating from high school.

The theme of the contest, which was sponsored by Wichita General Hospital School of Nursing, was “What I Can Contribute to My Community as a Professional Nurse.”  It offered the winner a free semester of nursing school.

Jones won the contest and immediately learned that writing did pay.  But, she also realized that nursing was something she could excel in, so her love of writing would just have to wait. 

A friend recommended to Jones that she complete her degree with the nursing program at Incarnate Word in the mid-1960s.

“The quality of the faculty at the time I attended was top notch,” Jones recalls.  “I learned a tremendous amount that I was able to apply in situations throughout the subsequent years.”

Jones cited UIW's community health course as a key influence to understanding the importance of family, community and the nurse's role in health promotion.

“My hospital background had not done this and it has affected my practice to this day,” she said.  “Incarnate Word was an integral part of my education.  I appreciate the availability of a program that was ahead of its time in welcoming registered nurses and incorporating them into the student body.”

In 1970 she began teaching at the University of Texas at Austin, eventually becoming Vice-President of Academic Affairs for the UT System's School of Nursing. By 1979 she returned to her Texas Panhandle roots and became founding Dean of the new School of Nursing at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock.

Now, after decades in academia and college administration, Jones has finally uncorked the creative writer that was locked inside during her nursing career.  

Her latest book, “A Stone for Every Journey,” chronicles the 80-year life of Elinor Gregg, a nurse whose profession and personal choices along the way allowed her to experience amazing adventures around the globe.

“The book details an independent woman's life of adventure, frustration, triumphs, and personal commitment to caring,” Jones said. “It will fascinate readers who enjoy a good story.”

Jones said that Gregg became a nurse at a Boston hospital after graduating from training school in 1911. Soon after her service as a field nurse in France during World War I, Gregg made community health initiatives her career focus and eventually became the first Supervisor of Nurses and Field Matrons for the Indian Service in 1924.

Gregg's work at the Rosebud Reservation for the Sioux in South Dakota was an arduous mix of political and physical obstacles that are described in vivid detail throughout the book.

“Her stories tell of miles she traveled through World War I, on Indian Reservations, in Washington, D.C., and all the journeys between and since,” Jones said.  “Elinor Gregg was an extraordinary woman.”

Jones was in attendance for the UIW homecoming on October 18, helping the School of Nursing and Health Professions kick-off a year-long celebration of its 75th anniversary.  She delivered the Sister Charles Marie Frank Memorial Lecture.

Dr. Kathi Light, Dean of the School of Nursing and Health Professions, said Jones was the perfect candidate to deliver the lecture not only because she is a 1966 nursing alumna, but because she is also nationally recognized as a leader in nursing management.

“Dr. Jones (enabled) our students to have a better understanding of how culture, history and scholarship relate to the profession of nursing,” Light said.  “It (was) a nice way of highlighting a year we are celebrating our history.”

While Jones and her husband, Jim Bob, semi-retired from their “real jobs” in 2001 to begin a life of farming, Jones cannot completely close the door to the profession she loves above all: nursing. She still works as a family nurse practitioner in Ruidoso, N.M.; teaches part-time for the School of Nursing at Texas Tech; and travels the country on various speaking engagements.

However, living on the farm these past few years has shown Jones she has a knack for a third profession.

“I'm also a pretty fine farmhand,” she added with a hearty laugh.