Robeson County


Learn more about the history of nursing in Robeson County

A brief history of Lumbee nurses


Dr. Cherry Maynor Beasley, Ph. D., M. S., R.N.C.S., F.N.P was born on September 1, 1953 to Waltz and Louise Maynor.  She is the first Lumbee Indian to earn a PhD in nursing.  Beasley earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from the University of Michigan, her Family Nurse Practitioner from the University of South Carolina, her Master Degree in Public Health from the University of North Carolina and her PhD in Nursing from East Carolina University.  She was a founding faculty member at the UNC-Pembroke School of Nursing.  She coordinates the RN to BSN program making college educations available for rural nurses leading to better patient care in rural areas of the state.  Dr. Beasley has focused her research and practice on Lumbee health issues including child development and breast cancer.

Beasley is an active leader in the nursing profession.  She is a member of the American and North Carolina Nurses Association, the American and North Carolina Public Health Association,

American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, the National Nurses Honor Society: Sigma Theta Tau

and Delta Omega.  Beasley served as President of the North Carolina Center for nursing from 2007 -2009

Errol Oxendine, RN The first Lumbee Indian  to be selected as NC Nursing Student of the Year 2000.

Nora Kendall Noble, RN ’57, Lt. Colonel, USAF (Retired) From: Voices (2012) by Dr. Evelyn Wicker

I am the youngest of two daughters born to Rev. Joseph Kendall and Dr. Aggie Nora Kendall-Simpson in Maxton, North Carolina, on August 5, 1936. At the age of fifteen years I was baptized by the late Reverend Wertz at her home church of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Maxton. My fondest childhood memories include my church girls’ leader, Mrs. Etta McLaughlin. She took us on Vacation Bible School day trips to Jones Lake in North Carolina. At the age of sixteen I was inspired by God to seek a career in the military.

            On December 31, 1960, I joined the United States Air Force as a First Lieutenant at Dyess AFB in Abilene, Texas. Eventually I became a staff nurse and was later promoted to Captain and stationed between Wiesbaden, Germany, and the Bangor, Maine, AFB. I attended flight nursing school in San Antonio, Texas, and became a flight nurse at Rhein-Main Air Base near Frankfurt, Germany. Eventually I was promoted to Standardization Evaluation Flight Nurse, which made me responsible for administering flight-nurse qualification exams in the Air Force. I had an early promotion to Major and in 1968 I volunteered as a flight nurse in Vietnam. Following a one-and-a-half-year tour in Vietnam, I went to McGuire AFB in New Jersey and then to Andrews AFB in Maryland where I was again promoted, this time to charge nurse supervisor of the Outpatient Clinic. In 1976 I received the Bachelor of Science degree from the Air Force Institute of Technology via Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. Later I became a primary nurse practitioner and eventually was promoted to the military position of Lieutenant Colonel. Following this promotion I was sent to Denver, Colorado, as the Chief Nurse of the Air Force Reserves Nurses.

            In Denver I was blessed with my most precious gift from God, the birth of my daughter, Celia Kendall, in 1981. Eventually I was promoted to full Colonel and was deployed to Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage, Alaska. In Alaska I was dual-hatted as the Alaskan Air Command Nurse and Chief Nurse of the Elmendorf Medical Center.

            In June 1984 I left Alaska and was transferred to Newark, Ohio, as the first female base commander of the Newark Air Force Station. I retired there in 1987 after completing twenty-seven years of consecutive military service.

            Upon my arrival in Newark I immediately joined the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church. The lord blessed me in Newark and I married the Widowed Reverend Dr. Charles W. Noble Sr., pastor of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church on November 9, 1985. The wedding ceremony was a jubilant affair, with the sanctuary filled to capacity and the members delighted with how God has restored the church with a very talented and capable First Lady. I am the longest-serving first lady in the history of Shiloh.

            Following my military career I co-founded with my husband the Par Excellence Learning Center and accepted the full-time position as its administrator. The center opened its doors despite the considerable odds on August 25, 1987. In 1988 I was able to get the new elementary school fully accredited in a year’s time, which had never been done before in Ohio.

            My community and civic roles have also been extensive from the time I first began public speaking in high school. I was a member of the Advisory Nursing Council of Central Ohio and a board member of the Private Industry Council. I served on the YWCA board of directors and was a member of the United Way Planning Division, a board member of the center of the Visually Impaired, a board member of the Licking County Aging Program, a board member of the SCORE program, and a past president of the Ohio State Medical Board.

            I have had to opportunity to speak on the local, state, and national levels throughout the country. I have served as a Sunday School Teacher, a Hattie Jackson Guild Girl advisor, a Shiloh Women’s Player Breakfast Leader, a choir member, a teacher, and an orator for the Eastern Union Missionary Baptist Association and the Ohio Baptist General Convention. I have also served as past chairman of the Baptist Pastor’s Minister’s Wives and Widows of Columbus and Vicinity Ministry.

            I have also been privileged to be the first Black female Colonel to become the Command Chief Nurse of the Bair Force Reserve Nurses, the first Black Air Force nurse to become the Command Nurse of the Alaskan Air Command with a dial hat, the first female to command the Newark AFB in Newark, Ohio, the only Black female in my Aeromedical Evacuation to be promoted to Major one year ahead of all my contemporaries, the first Black Air Force Colonel to be placed in the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame, and the first female in Ohio to establish a private fully accredited elementary school in nineteen months. 

            On May 11, 2003, I was awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters from Tri-County Bible College and Seminary in North Carolina. In 1990 I was inducted into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame. I also received the Vietnam Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Air Force Longevity Award, the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, the Air Force Organizational Excellence Award, the Meritorious Service Medal with two oak-leaf clusters, and the Legion on Merit Award with one oak-leaf cluster. I hold a teaching certificate in grades K-8 from the state of Ohio. My husband and I were invited to the inauguration of President George H. W. Bush and were included in the President’s “inner circle.”

            My faith has been my leading force in life. The most influential persons in my life have been my grandparents, the late Reverent Henry and Maggie McRae, and my late mother. My mother was my mentor and “my everything.” My lifetime aspiration has been to motivate people to live a healthy and spiritual life. My faith has also been key in my twenty-five years as a cancer survivor. A favorite scripture for my daily living is “Cast all your cares upon Him; for He careth for you,” 1 Peter 5:7.

Schools of Nursing

Health Care Institutions

  • Delany, A.  Mambourg, M.. & Teisburg, H. (1952)  They donned their caps again.  American Journal of Nursing, 52(7) pp 841-842.  This article describes nurses returning to work at Robeson Memorial Hospital during a severe nursing shortage.
  • History of Robeson County Memorial. From: Our Medical Heritage 1775-1959 (1959) Robeson Office Supplies: Lumberton: NC. Lumberton/Robeson County. See picture of the hospital. Timeline below.
    • 1906 – Dr. Neill Archibald Thompson opened the first hospital – Thompson Hospital and School of Nursing (SON) in Robeson County. The first floor was a living area for nurses and student nurses.  There were 16 private rooms for patients.
    • 1926 –The Thompson Hospital and nurses home renamed Johnson Hospital after a local doctor, Dr. Johnson.
    • 1921 –Baker Sanitarium opened with a School of Nursing. There were 75 patient beds. Miss Beta Elkins ( Mrs. L.J. Britt) came in 1921 as Superintendent of Nurses.
      Authors (unnamed) state “from the founding of the fist Thompson Hospital in 1906, both schools of nursing were always among the highest rated in the state … They were recognized and accredited by the State Joint Committee on Standards for Schools of Professional Nursing and approximately 80% of all nursing in Robeson, Scotland, Bladin and part of Columbia Counties was done by graduates of Baker, Thompson and Robeson Memorial Hospitals."
    • 1946 – The 2 hospitals merged to become the Baker-Thompson Memorial Hospital.
    • 1950 –  The hospital was renamed Robeson County Memorial Hospital and it opened a new facility in 1953.
  • Robeson County Hospital history from Southeast Medical Center.

Oral History

  • The Robeson County Historical Museum has oral histories about Baker Sanitarium and the medical history of Robeson County.


  • Information about Baker Sanitarium and Thompson Hospital in Robeson Remembers Vol 1 available from the Robeson County Historical Society.
  • Photographs of Baker Sanitarium and Thompson Hospital and their nurses homes.

 The Robesonian 
Lumberton, North Carolina
13 Dec 1920, Mon  •  Page 5