Jane Keller, Class of 1924

Nurse Jane Keller Funeral Rites Today

Jane Keller

Jane Keller, from her obituary

Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. today [October 22, 1973] in Berry’s Chapel for Miss Jane Keller, widely beloved Knoxville nurse who died Saturday in Baptist Hospital of a chronic heart ailment. She was 80. Miss Keller began training to become a nurse in 1921 at old General Hospital, and after graduation rose rapidly to become nursing director of that hospital. “Miss Jane was Knoxville General Hospital,” an eminent local surgeon who interned here said at her retirement in 1952. But Miss Jane couldn’t stay retired. She moved right on over to Eastern State Psychiatric Hospital as director of nurses, becoming the first registered nurse ever employed there. When she really retired, in 1967, a monthly newspaper published by the institution dedicated its December issue to her. A page one picture under the headline “Beloved Nursing Chief Retires” has an open letter beside it signed by all staff members and every patient who could hold a pen. There is a Jane Keller Student Nursing Loan Fund, established by General’s [sic] Hospital’s alumnae group in 1951, just prior to her leaving there. In May 1967, The Jane Keller Building at ESPH opened to do her honor. Two days after her last retirement, Miss Keller suffered a heart attack. Only a few of her friends and associates were told her of hospitalization. She maintained an apartment at 1805 Clinch Avenue until about seven months ago, when she moved in with a sister, Mrs. V. L. Davis at 2147 Maplewood Drive. A brother, Floyd F. Keller also lives in Knoxville. Source: Knoxville Journal, October 22, 1973 [page not indicated on clipping]

Miss Keller, Retired Nurse, Dies

Entered Profession in 1921

Miss Jane Keller

Photo from her obituary

Miss Jane Keller, 80, retired superintendent of nurses at the Old General Hospital and retired nursing director of Eastern State Psychiatric Hospital, died yesterday at Baptist Hospital, where she was admitted seven weeks ago with a chronic heart condition. The retired nurse, considered a pleasant-talking woman with a warm, merry smile by those who knew her, entered her chosen profession in 1921 as a student at the old General Hospital. Before that, she had done what was expected of her – taught school in a one-room schoolhouse back home in Sevier County and taken courses at UT.

Graduates to Head Nurse

“Teaching school was the only respectable employment for a woman back then,” she once said in an interview. “At least, that’s what I was told.” After three years as a student at General Hospital, she remained as graduate nurse, then graduated to head nurse and serving as acting director of the nursing school between directors. In 1939, she became the hospital’s 19th director of the nursing school and superintendent of nurses, holding the positions until retiring in 1952. She served as the hospital’s nursing chief longer than any other director.

Honored in 1951

Before her retirement, she was honored in 1951 when a student nurse loan program was named for her. The Jane Keller Student Nurse Loan Fund was established by the hospital’s alumnae group in which Miss Keller was always active. As soon as she retired from the General Hospital post, she took on another – the new job of Eastern State director of nurses. Her appointment was announced at the same time the hospital announced a state goal of three months of psychiatric training for all student nurses.

Moves in with Sister

In May 1967, a building was named for Miss Keller at Eastern State. The Jane Keller Building symbolized the dedication of the former employe [sic] who had retired five months earlier. Miss Keller was active in nurse associations and was a member of Island Home Baptist Church. She lived at 1805 Clinch Ave. until about seven months ago when, because of her health, she moved in with a sister, Mrs. V. L. Davis, 2147 Maplewood Drive. She also leaves a brother, Floyd F. Keller, Knoxville. The body is at Berry’s. Source: Knoxville News-Sentinel, October 21, 1973 [page not indicated on clipping]

Leave a Reply