Roberta L. "Bobbie" Himes

A registered nurse who was director of nursing at Joseph Richey Hospice and later joined the Peace Corps

April 06, 2010|By Frederick N. Rasmussen |

Roberta L. "Bobbie" Himes, a registered nurse who specialized in hospice care and had served as director of nursing at Joseph Richey Hospice before joining the Peace Corps, died of multiple myeloma Friday at her Catonsville home. She was 73.

Roberta Louise McCleary was born in Pittsburgh and raised in Silver Spring, where she graduated in 1954 from Montgomery Blair High School.

After graduating from the Union Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in 1957, she married Thomas Edmund Himes, a mechanical engineer. He died in 1984.

Mrs. Himes worked as a nurse at Union Memorial before starting her family and later returned to the profession in 1975 as a neonatal intensive-care nurse at what is now the University of Maryland Medical Center.

She earned her bachelor's degree in nursing in 1987 from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland.

In 1989, Mrs. Himes joined the staff of the Joseph Richey Hospice, eventually becoming director of nursing at the North Eutaw Street facility.

"Bobbie was responsible in those early days of getting us in compliance and through the various Medicare surveys," said Charlotte Hawtin, acting executive director of the Joseph Richey Hospice.

"She was also supervisor of our clerical staff and was part of the original group that wrote our protocol for our AIDS patients. She had lots of patient skills and was a good nurse," Mrs. Hawtin said.

Mrs. Himes was also popular with the staff.

"She was a very sunny person and quite jolly. She enjoyed laughing and doing wonderful things for the staff such as staff recognition," Mrs. Hawtin said. "She loved people and had tons of energy."

Sue Hetzer, a registered nurse at Joseph Richey Hospice, credited Mrs. Himes with being her mentor.

"She taught me hospice 20 years ago when I came here. She taught me what hospice meant because when I came here, my background was as far away as you can possibly get from hospice care," Miss Hetzer said.

"She was very caring and excellent with the patients. She was a very empathetic person," she said.

In 1997, when she was 61, Mrs. Himes decided to join the Peace Corps. She was sent to the Republic of Turkmenistan, where she worked in maternal health care.

"Coming from a medical background, where everything is provided, to having nothing is incredible and showed what a terribly resilient person she was," Mrs. Hawtin said.

"Her lifetime was filled with not only care for the ailing through her nursing career, but she also exhibited care for others in opening her home to a homeless single mother as well as housing exchange students from all over the world," said a son, Paul E. Himes of Oakton, Va.

Returning from her overseas assignment in 1999, Mrs. Himes went to work for the Visiting Nurses Association of Maryland, and later at Seasons Hospice at Northwest Hospital Center, from which she retired in 2008 because of failing health.

Mrs. Himes never lost her love and respect for the Joseph Richey Hospice, its staff and its mission.

She also was vitally interested in the establishment of Dr. Bob's Place, Maryland's first hospice exclusively for children.

The $4.6 million facility named for the late Dr. Robert Irwin, who had been Richey Hospice's first medical director, will open this fall in a building adjacent to the Richey Hospice.

"On January 29th, we had a 'thank you' party for our donors at the Maryland Club and Bobbie came in her wheelchair," Mrs. Hawtin said.

For 36 years, Mrs. Himes had been a communicant of the Catholic Community at Relay and had been a member of the Catonsville Garden Club and the Catonsville Sewing Club.

She was an opera and chamber music fan and was an inveterate world traveler.

"She was especially devoted to travel by train and did so at every opportunity in every country to which she traveled," her son said. "She got her love of trains in her youth when she rode trains between Pittsburgh, Silver Spring and Richmond, Va., visiting relatives."

Facing the end of her life, Mrs. Himes sought in-home hospice care with the help of her old friends from the Joseph Richey Hospice, family members said.

"It was a philosophy of care for the dying to which she had devoted much of her life," her son said.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered for Mrs. Himes at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Catholic Community, 5025 Cedar Ave., Relay.

Also surviving are three other sons, Christopher L. Himes of Baltimore, Michael H. Himes of Seattle and Timothy S. Himes of Washington; two daughters, Jean L. Bridle of Catonsville and Linda Anne Himes of Plano, Texas.; a brother, Richard McCleary of Myrtle Beach, S.C.; and five grandchildren.

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