New Hanover County

County History: 
New Hanover
Quick Facts
  • County seat: Wilmington, NC
  • Population: ~234,473 (2019 estimate)
  • New Hanover Regional Medical Center, established in 1967, was the first hospital in Wilmington to admit patients of all races.
  • New Hanover county website
People and Biographies
Notable individuals from nursing history.
  • Johnnie Sutton Fields (1930- ): Fields was born in 1930 in Warsaw, NC to John Sutton and Maggie S. Bell Boney Sutton. After graduating from Rose Hill Colored High School in 1948, Fields entered the segregated Community Hospital School of Nursing in Wilmington. She graduated in 1951 and began work as the evening supervisor at Community Hospital. Fields later worked in the segregated “Colored Ward” at James Walker Hospital until she joined the staff of the Public Health Department in 1963.  In 1968 Fields became the first Registered Nurse employed at the Southeastern Mental Health Center. She quickly was promoted to Director of Adult and Gerontological Services, supervising a staff of 30. In 1989 she received the Health Care Professional of the Year Award for New Hanover County. She was recognized for being instrumental in founding the Sherwood Village Apartments, which provide independent living for those with mental health issues, Ocean house, a community support program to teach those with disabling mental illness independent living skills and a supported employment program for the mentally ill. (Biographical sketch by Olivia Jenkins available on LinkedIn Pulse). 
  • Amelia Lawrason (Wilson) (1874-1946): Lawrason was the first public health nurse in North Carolina.
  • Columbia Munds (1878-1965): Columbia Munds was born on January 8, 1878, to James and Eliza Hill Munds in Wilmington NC, the middle of three children. After attending the local public schools, she graduated from the Margaret Fahnestock Training School for Nurses in New York City in 1902.  She spent several years as a private duty nurse in her hometown until she became a public health nurse, first with the Ministering Circle of the King’s Daughters in 1917 and then as the first Supervisor of Nursing at the New Hanover Board of Health in 1918. In this capacity she was a leader in combatting the “Spanish Flu” pandemic. In addition, Munds started clinics for all ages and for specific diseases, enhanced testing and immunizations for diphtheria and other contagious diseases and expanded the number of nurses and scope of public health nursing practice in the Health Department in New Hanover County.  Munds never married or had children, so she had time to be very active in Red Cross and NCNA activities throughout her life.  She served as NCNA President in 1926-1927 and chaired many important committees both before and after her presidency. She retired in 1946 and spent her final years in Wilmington. She died on Oct 17, 1965, and is buried in the Oakdale Cemetery in her hometown.
  • Salome Taylor (1880-1964): Taylor was the superintendent of nurses at Community Hospital, Wilmington's African American medical facility during the segregation era. (Biographical sketch available from My Reporter.)
  • Marjorie Tinker (1940s): World War II nurse who served in New Guinea. Transcript of an oral history interview with Tinker is available through a collaborative project between UNC Wilmington and the Cape Fear Museum.
Additional resources for further research.

Healthcare Institutions and Schools of Nursing


Newpaper Clippings

Compiled by: 
Phoebe Pollitt