Santa Fe Living Treasures – Elder Stories

Dr. McNown arrived in New Mexico, Christmas of 1948, on loan to Los Alamos Medical Center from a children’s hospital in Ohio and later opened her own practice in a renovated tumbledown house on the main road in Nambe.  When she first began practicing, visits were only $2 to $3, and often patients paid the fee in vegetables or fruit.  Doctors being scarce, she found herself making house calls on cattle as well!  Also during this time she traveled and worked at state run health clinics in Pojoaque, Chimayo, Truchas, Tierra Amarilla and Taos and at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Santa Fe.  She was soon recruited by Dr. Sam Ziegler, who built Espanola’s first hospital, to join him in establishing a pediatric care unit in the Espanola Hospital.  Her hard work, dedication, and love of the people of this region kept her going at a furious clip for nearly 40 years until she retired in 1987 due to her first bout with cancer.  

Dr. McNown died on June 16, 2004.  In her obituary, which she wrote herself to friends and family, she said, “I have had the most wonderful, happy, rewarding and fulfilled 87 years.  Thank you for sharing them with me.”

Photo © 1998 by Steven Northup