Jude Stark grew up in Waynedale, Indiana. She attended Waynedale Elementary School and Elmhurst High School. After graduation she enrolled in the nursing program at Lutheran Hospital to fulfill her lifelong dream. Her family was proud of her ambition and enthusiasm, especially her dad. Her dream was postponed when she fell in love and married Spike Cline. Her focus changed while fulfilling duties as a housewife and mother of two, but her dream never faded.
Her dad died in 1970 of a heart attack, and none of the family were permitted to visit or be at his bedside at death. Jude was resentful of the staff who cared more for the rules than the feelings of the family. This stuck in Jude’s mind and shaped the way she would later deal with patients and their families.
Soon after her father’s death she envisioned her father in a dream. He encouraged her to find a way to go back to school. That’s all it took for her to rekindle her dream. She enrolled in nursing school in North Carolina and finished her degree.
When the family moved to Louisville, Kentucky, her career blossomed. For the first time in history, Louisville EMS was hiring RNs to join their team. This was an opportunity for Jude to expand her expertise and fulfill her thrill seeking nature. Hiring RNs eliminated the need to call in for instructions. The RN could make critical decisions on the spot resulting in lives saved. Jude’s only handicap was her poor sense of direction. She studied local maps until she memorized every street in town. She loved working the streets even though it could be dangerous and exhausting.
Jude’s next adventure was working in the ER. She experienced all the excitement of EMS, but less physical stress. She worked the night shift and Saturday nights were her favorite. She welcomed any emergency that came through the door, no matter how bloody or life threatening.
After years in the ER she was drawn to the cardiac care unit. She learned all there was to know about the function and care of the heart. Her previous experience and knowledge made her the best in her field. But her most noted achievement was her care and compassion of her patient’s families. Drawing on her own experience with her father’s death, she always made sure that families were well informed and allowed family members to visit their loved one even if it broke the rules. She provided a shoulder to cry on and sometimes joined families in the chapel to offer a prayer. Her reputation led many doctors to rely on her to pass along bad news to their patients and families instead of doing it themselves.
A new door opened for Jude when Dr. William DeVries transferred to Humana Hospital Louisville. DeVries had already performed one artificial heart implant and was approved for 100 more. Jude jumped at the chance to work with the famous heart surgeon, and was so excited that she bought stock in the Jarvik-7 artificial heart. Every day was history in the making and Jude loved every minute. She formed a close bond with the recipients of the artificial heart as well as their families. DeVries performed a total of four heart implants while at Humana. Unfortunately, the program was not as successful as they had expected. Although the artificial heart kept patients alive, their quality of life was so poor that the project was discontinued.
Jude’s last job in the hospital was working on the IV team. She was a pro at starting PICC lines and was often called to start an IV that was literally impossible for other nurses.
Jude gave up working at the hospital at age 62, but she did not give up being a nurse. She used her knowledge and ability every chance she got. She did not like being referred to as a retired nurse. She kept her license up to date and was truly a nurse to the end.
Jude was also a talented writer and wrote a column for The Waynedale News under the pen name of Mae Jullian, her grandmother’s maiden name. It gave her a chance to share her experiences growing up in Waynedale and her adventures in nursing.
Jude was at their vacation home on Oliver Lake in northern Indiana when she became ill. She woke up September 9th in extreme pain and was transported to the Lagrange Hospital ER by EMS. Unable to treat her sufficiently, she was transferred to Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne.
With her heart giving out and unable to speak, she was alert to everything that was happening in her room. When the doctors and nurses read her vitals, she would nod her head in agreement and acceptance. She knew better than anyone what the numbers meant. She had seen those same signs in her own patients hundreds of times. She fearlessly moved through the dying process like she had moved through life. When she was too weak to move, she was able to lift her index finger and point upward. She was ready to move on to her next adventure.
Jude Stark Cline died at Lutheran Hospital September 10th where her nursing career began, only a few miles away from her childhood home in Waynedale.
After writing this story I ran across a quote by Andrea de Michaelis. “I want to look back on my life and be giddy with joy that I was the one who got to live it.” I can see Jude smiling now!