the village people

Nursing is foundation of assisted living


Nurses Day is May 6, and here at The Village, we would like to recognize some of the best.

Austie Olson is the main nurse and founder of The Village Assisted Living. She has always been interested in nursing due to her mother’s career as a nurse practitioner. Olson graduated from SDSU with a Bachelor of Science in nursing. She started working at the De Smet Memorial Hospital after graduation and then moved to a clinic. Her interest was growing toward elderly needs, and Lela Rentschler, a fellow nurse, was a huge influence on her. Rentschler instilled in her that “a nurse had to treat the whole person.” The two worked together at Good Samaritan Home Health.

When that closed, Olson was asked by people in the community if she would help them. Her concern continued.

Olson heard of the Faith Nurse program, and with hope and prayer, this became a reality. She had to attend a course at Augustana. The Faith Nurse program is run on donations from the area. As time progressed, Olson came to understand the needs of the whole person. She realized that the elderly had more needs than she could take care of during home visits.

One day, over coffee with friends, the subject of the needs of elderly came up in the discussion. The coffee girls prayed, asking for the possibility of an assisted living. Prayers were answered; there is now “The Village Assisted Living.”

Here at The Village, a retired nurse lives among the residents. Ruth (Albrecht) Zeller was a practicing nurse for 53 years, while also raising three children with her husband, Bob. She attended St. Joseph School of Nursing, a three-year course, in Mitchell. Zeller remembers rules for attending nursing school which included age, weight and marital status. Students had to be unmarried. Several of the girls had to go to the “Diet Kitchen.” Luckily enough, these rules are not used today. Zeller graduated in 1949, and before taking a job, she had six months supervised training at Presentation School of Nursing in Aberdeen.

Dress code for nurses has changed quite a bit throughout the years. Zeller wore a white dress, white cap, white stockings with a seam, white shoes and no jewelry except her nurse pin and wristwatch. Her first job was in Arlington, then Lake Preston, and finally, she ended up in De Smet.

It was Zeller’s aunt, cousin and mother who influenced her to become a nurse. She is proud of her years in nursing and is delighted that her two daughters and a granddaughter became nurses, and now a great-granddaughter is also studying to be a nurse.

Two retired nurses who work at The Village part-time deserve recognition as well. Thank you to Delrean Gilligan and Tina Schipper, and thank you to all the nurses who have dedicated their lives to caring for others.


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