HoH inductee recognized as a ‘leader in health care’

REJECTED by several nursing schools in the early 1950s because of the color of her skin, an African-American woman from Martins Ferry later was acclaimed as “an internationally recognized leader in health care,” and she will be honored this year in her hometown.

May Louise Hinton Wykle, Ph.D., will be an inductee into the Martins Ferry Hall of Honor at a ceremony Sunday, April 6, at 2 p.m. in the Martins Ferry High School Cafetorium. Five other inductees have been named, including two others in the medical profession.

In 1956, she became the first African-American graduate of the Ruth Brant School of Nursing, Martins Ferry. In 2001, she was named as the first African-American dean of the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland. She’s a triple alumna of Case Western.

Her honors have been numerous over the years, and she became a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing, the profession’s highest honor, and a fellow of the Gerontological Society of America. She also was appointed as the first “Pope Eminent Scholar” at the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Family Caregiving at Georgia Southwestern University.

It’s not surprising that “Forefront,” a publication of the Frances Payne Bolton school, when reporting on her retirement in 2013 titled the article, “A Legend Takes A Bow.”

Also in that publication, Mary E. Kerr, Ph.D., dean and May L. Wykle Professor, referred to Wykle as “one of nursing’s most distinguished leaders,” adding the former Ferrian had been granted emerita status by the Case Western Reserve Board of Trustees during the summer.

In addition to a Ph.D. in education from the Bolton School, she previously had earned a bachelor of science degree in nursing and a master’s degree in psychiatric nursing. She is recognized nationally as an expert in the field of aging adults.

She became a faculty member at Case Western in 1969. For several decades, she has served as director of the University Center on Aging and Health.

Not only has she initiated educational programs in Europe, Africa and Asia, but she completed research projects in areas such as self-care, geriatric mental health, family caregiving, minority caregivers and caring for patients with dementia. She has been a visiting professor at universities in Texas and Michigan as well as the University of Zimbabwe and was a visiting scholar at some universities in the United States.

Wykle was named to the advisory board for the Johnson & Johnson national “Campaign for Nursing’s Future,” geared to address the current nursing shortage.

The former Ferrian is a recent past president of the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International, and also headed the board for the Friends of the National Institute of Nursing Research.

A charter member of the National Black Nurses Association’s Center for Excellence, Wykle received a Geriatric Mental Health Academic Award from the National Institute of Mental Health and was director of the Robert Wood Johnson Teaching Nursing Home Project.

In 1986, she participated in a study of the nation’s nursing homes and was named to the White House Conference on Aging in 1993.

One of her recent awards was the Frank and Dorothy Humel Horvorka Award, which recognizes Case faculty for exceptional achievements in teaching, research and scholarly service benefiting the community, nation and world.

Her honors are many, such as Case’s 1989 John S. Dierkhoff Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching, a Merit Award from the Cleveland Council of Black Nurses and the 2000 Gerontological Nursing Research Award from the Gerontological Society of America. She was named “Outstanding Researcher in the State of Ohio” by the Ohio Research Council on Aging and the Ohio Network of Educational Consultants in the Field of Aging in addition to receiving the “Gerontologial Nursing Research Award” from two organizations.

The recipient of an Outstanding Undergraduate Alumni Award from Case, she was honored by the National Black Nurses Association with a Lifetime Achievement Award as well as receiving an award from the Ohio Nurses Association.

In 2003, she was appointed by the governor to the Ohio Commission on Minority Health, and the National Institutes of Health named her to the Fogarty International Center Advisory Board.

Wykle has reviewed grants for several national institutes. Her book, “Serving Minority Elders in the 21st Century,” earned the American Journal of Nursing’s Book of the Year Award in 2000. More recently, Wykle and Dr. Sarah Gueldner completed a book, “Aging Well: Gerontological Education for Nurses and Other Health Professionals.”

The ceremony at which Wykle and the other inductees will be honored in April is free and open to the public. The Citizens Bank is the sponsor for the HofH.

Dr. R.A. Raimonde and the late Dr. C.B. Messerly are the other inductees in the medical field.

Other honorees are Patrolman Peter A. Reddy, a Martins Ferry policeman killed in the line of duty; Jack Canfield, originator of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series; and Calvin and Betty J. Pokas, journalists with Calvin being in the OVAC Hall of Fame, two state Halls of Fame and the Bellaire Wall of Fame and Betty is in the Barnesville Area Education Foundation HofF. Calvin Pokas is deceased.