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Leaving legends: Couple’s combined service totals 90 years

Together, David and Teresa Duwe were only one decade short of a century of service to Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph when they worked their final shifts.

David’s last day of work was Dec. 2, while Teresa’s was Dec. 1, which were capped off with a well-attended retirement party with current and former colleagues, family and friends.
 
“They’re legends around this hospital,” says Charity Clark, Ascension Via Christi’s director of Case Management. “They wanted to go out together just like they came in: Together.” 
 
Says Teresa of her nursing school classmate: “I sat in the very front and got straight A’s and David sat in the very back and got, well, not A’s.” 
 
David and Teresa both started nurses training in 1973 and graduated as registered nurses from the St. Joseph Hospital School of Nursing in 1975 and eventually reconnected at the hospital following graduation while they were working night shift. Two years after that, they were married and have been together on and off the job ever since.
 
David began working at St. Joseph as a night shift orderly and then transitioned into bedside care. For 36 of his 46 years of service, he has worked as a case manager. “The values of the Sisters of St. Joseph is what inspired me to commit to serving relentlessly,” says David.
 
Mary Burke, a former house supervisor who came to the couple’s send-off, says David knew what he was doing and learned something new every day. “That’s what made him great.” 
 
Teresa began working the night shift at St. Joseph in 1975, but eventually transitioned to working days as a bedside nurse in the cardiac care unit. “Nothing beats working with patients because they help me become a better nurse and person each day,” she says.
 
“I can always count on her to come to me when something is up or if I need a trusted, honest opinion,” says Staci McDorman, her nurse manager, noting that Teresa can always be counted on to help with training students and new hires, lending a helping hand to her teammates and leading by example. 
 
They are often asked how and why they’ve served in the same place for so many years. For Teresa, it was her enjoyment of her daily interactions with co-workers and the patients they served. For David, it was his connectedness to the founding sisters’ mission and values. But it really all came down to one underlying reason: St. Joseph and all who served there were their family.
 
For anyone considering nursing as a profession, David suggests reading and letting the book “What Would St. Joseph Do?” serve as their guide; it’s also important to remember that technology doesn’t replace the power of a healing touch, adds Teresa.
 
When not at work, the Duwes have another shared passion: Quilting. David took it up in the late ‘90s, figuring, “If I could run a table saw, I could run a sewing machine.” He later taught Teresa, who has been crafting quilts of her own since 2005. Both belong to multiple quilting guilds and make monthly contributions of their finished work to Quilts of Valor, an organization that aims to cover service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing.
 
As for their retirement plans, they plan to put nursing behind them for now and spend their days quilting, traveling and spending time with their grandchildren.
 
But not because they regret one minute of the time they spent caring for others with their St. Joseph family.
 
“We wouldn’t go back and re-do it or trade our experiences for anything in the world,” says David.

PHOTOS: 

  • Party attendees talk with David and Teresa 
  • The Case Management team with David and Teresa
  • A young David lovingly looks on while Teresa poses for the camera
  • The couple's graduation pictures and most recent portrait together
  • A colleague signs their attendance book 
  • The couple's graduation portraits among other vintage photos
  • The entire board of photos and memories the couple compiled for the party
About Taylor Valdez

Curly hair with straight priorities. Dedicated workaholic and weekend adventurer. When I'm not writing or working, I'm shopping, chowing down on local bites or binging Netflix.