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Signe Skott Cooper

Published On: Jul 18 2013 06:03:59 AM CDT

MADISON-On July 16, 2013, Signe Skott Cooper, wonderful friend and colleague to many, passed away peacefully at Agrace HospiceCare Center at the age of 92.

She was born January 29, 1921 on a farm in Clinton County, Iowa to the late Hans and Clara Steen Skott, “arriving before the doctor did.” Her immediate and late family included, sisters Kathryn, Hilda, and brother Frank.

In 1937 her family moved to Madison and Signe began her professional nursing career, receiving her Certificate of Graduate Nurse from the University of Wisconsin (UW) School of Nursing in 1943. Shortly after graduation she joined the Army Nurse Corp as a Staff Nurse in the 20th General Hospital, working in both medical and psychiatry wards within the China-Burma-India Theater during WWII until 1946. Returning stateside, she was appointed to Obstetrics Head Nurse at Wisconsin General Hospital while also obtaining her BSN (’48) from UW. She later joined the UW faculty, attended Teachers College at Columbia University, New York, and then received her M. Ed (’55) from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. She championed life-long learning and was a great role model, attending and teaching many nursing/education courses.

Her dedication to improving continuing nursing education (CNE) started in Wisconsin and later had far-reaching national and international influence. In 1955, she initiated the UW CNE program while working with UW-Extension. She was proud of her efforts to initiate the first UW Extension’s Educational Telephone Network in 1965, a statewide dial access system for reaching Wisconsin nurses, with up-to-date health care information. This CNE telephone bridge network grew from 24 listening post with more than 600 RNs attending, to 170 listening posts serving all 72 counties. While she would often deny her ideas were innovative, her quite knowledgeable leadership produced outstanding achievements. Her confident determination in the value of CNE and leadership were instrumental in the formation of the American Nurses Association (ANA) Council on Continuing Education and the publication, Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing, serving as Associate Editor for over 25 years. Locally, she was Past President of the Madison District Nurses’ Association and the Wisconsin Nurses Association. She also served as consultant for the National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization, as well as CNE grants/projects for nurses in many states including Alaska; frequently international visitors sought her counsel from Australia, Europe, Asia and South America.

For her distinguished innovative CNE efforts she was an early inductee into the American Academy of Nursing (1977) and given Living Legend recognition(2003); other nursing awards included the National League for Nursing Linda Richards Award, ANA CNE Council Leadership Award, ANA Honorary Recognition Award, USA Adult Education Association Pioneer Award, ANA Hall of Fame, UW-Madison Nurses’ Alumni Organization Lifetime Achievement Award, and the American Association for the History of Nursing President’s Award.

She persistently encouraged other nurses to publish while a prolific writer herself, author of five books, over 100 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, editor or on editorial boards of seven nursing magazines, and consultant to two major publishing companies. Her passion for preserving nursing history lead to additional writing of the UW School of Nursing 75th Anniversary Historical Perspectives and over 100 short Wisconsin nurses biographies published in NURSING MATTERS; she pursued the inclusion of the permanent nursing history display within the UW School of Nursing.

She lived in Middleton for many years, was an avid cat-lover, enjoyed travel, especially train rides, took pride in her flowers and garden, valued frequent walks to the library, and guided many visitors through the Arboretum. In 2006, she moved to Oakwood Village Retirement Center.

For more than 10 years she campaigned diligently to establish a new UW School of Nursing building, becoming a major donor. When it finally came to fruition in 2012, she was present, proudly with her ground-breaking shovel and hard hat, as UW officials launched the $52 million Signe Skott Cooper Hall.

She is survived by cousins and many loyal friends. In her own quiet, honest, humble, and delightful manner she mentored so many and will be sadly missed by friends and nursing colleagues throughout the state and nation. At one of her many recognitions, she said “I’ve loved every job I’ve ever had. Part of it was being in the right place at the right time, and I know I’ve been lucky…guess that’s pretty good for a little farm girl from Iowa.”

Memorial services will be held at OAKWOOD VILLAGE WEST-RESURRECTION CHAPEL, 6205 Mineral Point Road, Madison at 2:00 PM on Tuesday, July 23, 2013. Visitation will be held at the GUNDERSON WEST FUNERAL & CREMATION CARE, 7435 University Ave., Middleton from 4:00 PM until 7:00 PM on Monday, July 22, 2013.

Memorials can be given to University of Wisconsin Foundation for the Signe Skott Cooper Hall or Cooper Continuing Nursing Education Fund, the Oakwood Foundation, or a charity of choice.

Gunderson West Funeral & Cremation Care
7435 University Ave
608-831-6761
www.gundersonfh.com

Memorials:
Memorials can be given to University of Wisconsin Foundation for the Signe Skott Cooper Hall or Cooper Continuing Nursing Education Fund, the Oakwood Foundation, or a charity of choice.

Visitation:
Visitation will be held at the GUNDERSON WEST FUNERAL & CREMATION CARE, 7435 University Ave., Middleton from 4:00 PM until 7:00 PM on Monday, July 22, 2013.

Service:
Memorial services will be held at OAKWOOD VILLAGE WEST-RESURRECTION CHAPEL, 6205 Mineral Point Road, Madison at 2:00 PM on Tuesday, July 23, 2013. Visitation will be held at the GUNDERSON WEST FUNERAL & CREMATION CARE, 7435 University Ave., Middleton from 4:00 PM until 7:00 PM on Monday, July 22, 2013.

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