Pioneering school nurse Edith McDonald dies

Published 6:26 pm Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A pioneer in nursing for children of the Picayune Separate Municipal Separate School District died Tuesday.

Edith Lockhart Rapp McDonald devoted about 20 years of her life to the immediate care of children as the first school nurse for the Picayune School District.

She passed away yesterday at the age of 85. One of her sons, Claiborne “Buddy” McDonald IV, said he was glad he and his family had the chance to spend time with her in her final days.

He said his mother will be remembered for the way she cared for the children as the school nurse. Prior to her becoming the first school nurse, children had no access to hearing and vision screening programs. Since many of the children were without the means for access to those screenings, her work was the only way for children to learn of possible hearing or vision disabilities, Buddy McDonald said. Diagnosis and correction of those disabilities helped children suffering from the problems to get help so they could focus on learning in school.

Local optometrists and charitable organizations helped her in her work. She also utilized a lot of her own money to ensure the children had the supplies the school could not provide.

“I just thought where she made the greatest impact was in that program,” Buddy McDonald said.

Her ambition was so strong that Buddy McDonald thought that if his mother had been born about 40 years later she could have gone to medical school.

Buddy McDonald also recalled her grand sense of humor and how she stuck to her opinion. After her working years, Edith McDonald kept busy with a nearby women’s Mardi Gras Club and helped hostess at times at the McDonald Funeral Home. Her personality exuded drive and perfectionism, which was passed down to her children and grandchildren, Buddy McDonald said.

Edith McDonald is survived by her two children, Buddy and Stephen McDonald Sr. their wives Suzy and Ann, respectively. She also leaves behind three siblings, Ester Rapp Johnson, Jessie Rapp Chaney and Lester Rapp. She was preceded in death by two siblings, William Rapp and Kenneth Rapp.

Services will be held Saturday at 1 p.m. in the Trinity United Methodist Church. Internment will be at New Palestine Cemetery. McDonald Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.