Ashe County


Learn more about the history of nursing in Ashe County

People and Biographies

Nurse Janet Garvey was born in Ashe County on June 26, 1962.  She earned  her BSN from UNC-Chapel Hill and an MSN and Nurse Practitioner degree from the U. of South Carolina.  She was a leader in the Gulf War known as Desert Storm.  Here is an article from the Galax, VA Gazette, published in 2001, about Nurse Practitioner Janet Garvey of Sparta who was a nurse in the first Gulf War.

Nurse Virginia Yearick Card, from the Helton community was a US Army Major in the Army nurse corps and served in WWII.

Mrs. Mary May Wilcox Iles was a nurse at Ashe Memorial Hospital (built with WPA funds and opened in 1941) for 32 years.  She was born in 1925, graduated from Lansing High School and nursing school in Galax, Va.

Nancy Kautz, RN, BSBA came to Ashe County in 1988 and has improved the quality of life and health for county residents for over twenty years.  Her work at Ashe

Memorial Hospital evolved from being an Emergency room nurse to establishing a cardiac rehabilitation program, to coordinating community outreach programs, writing and administering grants for the hospital and the community.  She has been responsible for facilitating, planning, designing, implementing and supervising programs that focus on the integration of community health and human services, in order to improve the health care delivery system for Ashe County.

For many years, Ms. Kautz provided leadership and staff support for the Ashe County Health Council, “A Healthy Carolinians Task Force”, and acted as a liaison between health care agencies and the community.  She was responsible for fiscal management of hospital and community grants, and managed grant-funded programs.  Due in large part to Ms Kautz’s contributions, Ashe Memorial Hospital was the proud recipient of the American Hospital Association 2000 NOVA Award, The William Anylan Award for distinguished Healthy Carolinians Task Force in

1999, and in 2005 the Hospital received the Rural Health Center’s Outstanding Health Organization Award.  Ms. Kautz has worked on an impressive array of projects to benefit the community including the establishment of the Ashe School Based Health Center, A Safe Home for Everyone, The Domestic Violence program in Ashe County, The Ashe/Alleghany Safe Kids Car Seat Project, the creation of several walking trails and parks in Jefferson and in Lansing.  The list continues with the establishment of the Ashe Suicide/Depression Awareness and Prevention task force, The Mountain Hearts Center for Prevention and Wellness, and as well as launching The Diabetes Education program and low-cost lipid and prostate cancer screenings. 

Nurse Kautz’s community involvement continues in her retirement.  Her current activities include being a member of the Ashe Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees and serving as the vice chairwoman of the School Based Health Center,



Special Topics

Ingram, M.R. (June, 1960). Operation snowbound. Tar Heel Nurse.  
This article describes providing care to citizens during a blizzard in 1960.

Items about nursing from the book: Ashe County Heritage Volume 1.

In 1958 there were 5 midwife assisted births in the county.

Mrs. Kate Duncan and Miss Virginia Ashley were nurses in Ashe County in the 1940s.

When Ashe Memorial Hospital opened "an appeal to the public went out and community vied with community in collecting canned goods and other food supplies for the hospital."

The Ashe County Health Department formed in 1938 as part of the Appalachian Health District which also included Watauga and Alleghany Counties.  In the 1960s, Mrs. Carrie McNeill and Miss Virginia Adderton were the public health nurses and Mrs. Margaret Bowers was the school nurse.