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Happy, happy birthday to you

Roberta Hale Turnbaugh celebrated her 100th birthday this week. The centurion was born May 29, 1908.

Turnbaugh graduated 80 years ago from the Bellevue Hospital School of Nursing in New York City.

She served as an angel-in-white who cared for tuberculosis patients at Bellevue between 1926 and 1927. Some of her friends contracted the disease and died, and although Turnbaugh never had symptoms she has tested positive for it ever since.

While serving those in medical need, she ran a ward of 60 patients on her own, bathing them, changing their linens, and dispensing their medications.

While still a student at Bellevue, Turnbaugh took a six-week course in public health nursing at Columbia University. After graduating from Bellevue in 1929 and receiving her nursing degree in 1930, she worked at the Henry Street Settlements in New York before taking a job with the American Red Cross as supervisor of public health nursing for West Virginia, Virginia and Indiana.

Turnbaugh drove throughout these states to deliver babies and care for the poor, often on dirt roads, with lots of snow in the winter. It was a challenging job, especially for a lone woman.

Turnbaugh left public health nursing to marry Robert Henri Wells in June 1941, adopting his two sons, Robert, Jr., and James, whose mother had passed away. She then gave birth to Poulsbo resident Jonathan Wells in 1942, and to daughters Judith in 1944 and Susan in 1946.

In the 1960s Turnbaugh went back to work as a public school nurse in New Jersey until her retirement in the 1970s.

Since 1985, Roberta has lived with her son Jonathan and his wife Lucy.

They moved to Poulsbo in 1998. Since she has delighted in watching her two grandchildren, Josie and Peter, grow up.

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