Almost 50 years later, Shirley Zeznock recounts the story of the impact Wilmington had on her and husband Eugene ‘67.
“In 1965, my husband Eugene and I moved our young family to Wilmington, North Carolina and settled on Harbor Island. Eugene planned to finish a bachelor degree in Accounting that he had starting working on years before at what was then known as Wilmington College, now UNC Wilmington. The original college buildings sat across from New Hanover High School on Market Street. At the time, Wilmington College only offered associate degrees and a large percentage of the student body was comprised of enlisted service men returning from the Korean War.
Our return to Wilmington was very exciting. We had previously lived in Wilmington in 1956 to 1957 and at that time I was a new Registered Nurse working the night shift at James Walker Hospital on Rankin Street.
During our second two years living back in Wilmington, 1965 to 1966, I had the best job ever at Babies Hospital. This children’s hospital originally opened in 1920 and was located on the banks of the Intracoastal Waterway just before the first bridge to Wrightsville Beach. I had returned to Wilmington as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA) and was the sole anesthetist in the hospital. I previously had worked in a large and busy operating room so this new job felt almost like a vacation.
I lived five minutes from Babies Hospital. The daily schedule usually was finished by late morning and even though I was on standby six days a week for emergencies, I had lots of time to… take a few college courses. All the new-found free time gave me the opportunity to work with the Wilmington College Marine Biology department which was right next door to Babies Hospital. They were doing a wide range of studies that I found very interesting and they even had an adopted seal named Lucille on site.
We left after the Wilmington College graduation ceremony in 1967 for improved job opportunities near Philadelphia but throughout the years our connection to the area remained strong… and after our retirement in 1995, we permanently moved back to Wilmington. We still remember and cherish all the opportunities made possible for us here."