by: Sydney R. Hardy

When David Harper’s beloved wife, Joyce Lee Harper died of ovarian cancer last year, he wanted to honor her life in a way that would have a lasting impact in the lives of others.

Joining together to memorialize the life of a caring and giving person, David Harper, his family and friends, established the Joyce Lee Harper Memorial School of Nursing Scholarship. “We wanted to honor the wonderful wife, mother and friend that Joyce was,” says Mr. Harper. “Also, During Joyce’s 4 1/2 year battle with ovarian cancer, she encountered many nurses who provided compassionate care. The scholarship is a way to pay tribute to nurses and nursing students who make a commitment to quality care in an oncology or hospice care setting,” adds Mr. Harper. Joyce’s nursing care team, made up of a specialized team of oncology and hospice care nurses, and other healthcare professionals, cared for Joyce during her rigorous treatments and hospital stays. “Joyce’s oncology nursing team played a major role in assisting our family in planning Joyce’s care. The ease to which they were able to coordinate her care and help us navigate through the myriad of tests and treatments was invaluable,” says Mr. Harper. “The oncology nurses really helped us with organizing our next steps to caring for Joyce, all the way up to the point to which we had to seek out hospice care.”

It was during the time Joyce was admitted to a hospice care setting that David understood what the true nature of a hospice care nurse must possess. “A hospice care nurse must be in tune with many senses; not only is he or she caring for the patient, but you have family and friends who are agonizing over the impending loss of a loved one,” adds Mr. Harper. “It’s definitely a profession that is geared toward an exceptionally, special individual. There are a lot of emotional dynamics that are being dealt with when a loved one is enduring pain and suffering.”

“My wife was a caring and kind person. Throughout her battle with cancer she still wanted to make sure everyone else was fairing well,” says Mr. Harper. “Joyce maintained a giving spirit throughout her life,” adds Mr. Harper. A giving spirit is what the Joyce Lee Harper Nursing Scholarship seeks out in candidates applying for an award.

Last year the Harper family awarded its first scholarship to Ms. Yvonne Allbee. Ms. Allbee obtained a licensed vocational nursing certificate in 2000, a registered nursing license in 2002, and completed a bachelor of science in nursing degree in 2004. Currently, Ms. Allbee is working on her Masters degree in nursing. She works as a hospice nurse and describes her profession as “her calling.” “Being a hospice nurse is exactly what I am supposed to be doing,” says Ms. Allbee. “Working in hospice is a challenging, heart wrenching, and often frustrating type of nursing. Hospice is also inspiring, amazing, and a beautiful type of nursing. I cannot imagine doing anything other than providing loving end-of-life care to a person and their family during a very significant and priceless time in life. I am a Hospice Nurse,” extols Ms. Allbee. “I am truly honored to be a recipient of the Joyce Lee Harper Nursing Scholarship. I am so amazed and inspired by the strength and courage of Mrs. Harper. I think Joyce and I would have had a few things in common, that makes me smile.”

If you are a nursing student interested in applying for a Joyce Lee Harper Scholarship, please review the criterion and application process at

To make a contribution to the Joyce Lee Harper Nursing Scholarship fund, contact Sydney R. Hardy, Director of Development at

Learn more about the life of Joyce Lee Harper at


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