Mayo's second-longest-serving employee (57.97 years and counting), Sister Lauren Weinandt, turned 93 on Saturday, and her 58th service anniversary is coming up on Aug. 16. She's out-senioritied only by Sister Generose Gervais and still keeps a busy schedule as archivist at the Saint Marys campus of Mayo Clinic Hospital. She was kind enough to take a few minutes (over lunch in the Sisters' Cafeteria) to share a few memories from her long career at Mayo.
First, let's go back to the 1950s. After graduating from the Oshkosh (Wisconsin) School of Business, working for a spell and caring for her mother, Sister Lauren joined the Sisters of Saint Francis in Rochester in 1954. Her first assignment came in 1956, when she became secretary to the hospital administrator at Saint Marys. Working with Sister Mary Brigh and then Sister Generose was anything but routine, with VIPs popping in for visits and Sister Mary Brigh turning off the lights in the office when Sister Lauren got too caught up in her work with prayer time fast approaching.
Sister Lauren kept track of hospital statistics with the help of only an adding machine. Each day, she counted the patients, typed up birth certificates, hand-recorded incident reports, and kept track of significant events, among other things. "We worked six days a week. Long days," she says with a smile. "We didn't keep track of our hours then, we just worked."
Asked to pick out a few memorable moments from her career, Sister Lauren points to the 100-year celebration at Saint Marys in 1989, which was beyond anything she expected. And then there were visits from celebrities, including a few well-known Mayo Clinic patients. Danny Kaye, for example, asked if he could join Sister Lauren and the Pinkettes (young volunteers) in caroling. There was Jimmy Stewart and Billy Graham. She even did some shopping for Ronald Reagan, when he was a patient.
These days, Sister Lauren is still something of an ambassador, managing the hospital archives and helping patients and visitors interested in learning more about Mayo Clinic and the hospital's history. "I still enjoy it," she says. "I like to be active and keep busy. I like to help people. I never know what each day is going to hold … I try to learn something new every day. It keeps your interest, and you can pass it on to others."
Asked about change, Sister Lauren notes, "I have seen a lot of change. You learn to accept it, and you trust, because you've seen the past," she says. "I trust the Mayo Clinic and the administration here to do what's best not only for the patient but for us, too." And values? "I think the values are being honored and respected. I think our people are just as interested today, and the Values Board has done a lot for continuing the values and keeping the spirit of the Sisters alive." She also offered a couple thoughts for those just starting their careers. "I guess I'd just talk about the importance of keeping the values and the integrity, especially, of patients," she says. "And I'd just tell them how much I've enjoyed it, and I hope that they would do the same. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't change a thing."
You can pass something on yourself by sharing your comments below. And while you're here, share Sister Lauren's words of wisdom with others using the handy social media tools.