Published on January 28, 2019

Lee Retires after 36-Plus Years of Service

Coworkers in the Critical Care Unit surprised Carolyn Lee (center) with a retirement reception on her last day of work, Jan. 28.

Carolyn Lee

Carolyn Lee has retired after more than 36 years as a patient representative at NMMC.

A native of Booneville, Lee studied education at Northeast Mississippi Community College and earned her bachelor’s degree in home economics education in 1967 from Delta State University in Cleveland. She taught home economics at Greenville High School for one year before she and her husband, Bobby, moved to New Orleans while he attended New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

She taught fifth grade at St. Bernard Parish School in Gauthier, La., for a year and then became a full-time mother after daughter Lorinda was born. The Lees moved several times as Bobby was a pastor and teacher in Warner Robbins, Ga.; Natchez, Miss.; and Barton, Ala. In 1974 they relocated to Saltillo, where she taught adult education classes for Itawamba Community College and her husband pastored Euclatubba Baptist Church.

In 1977 Lee was diagnosed with choriocarcinoma, a rare and fast-growing cancer. For two years she spent more time at UAB Hospital in Birmingham than at home. “As I went through those two years of four major surgeries, experimental tests and treatments, and continuous chemo, I came to a time of surrender to the Lord, resulting in a hunger for His Word.”

After her treatment, she returned to teaching at ICC part-time. Around then she also began teaching a Precept Ministries class at First Baptist Church in Tupelo—a class that lasted more than 15 years.

Within two years of her cancer treatment, her husband was diagnosed with throat cancer. “When Bobby was in the Critical Care Unit and I was waiting to go in and see him, I realized what I wanted to do and 2 Corinthians 1:4 became dear to me,” Lee said. “I knew I was going to need to work again, and I wanted to be in an area that I could comfort others with the comfort I had received from the Lord during my time of treatment at UAB.”

She was hired in 1982 as NMMC’s third patient representative, working 7-11 p.m. After several years, the program spread to 24 hours a day and Lee filled in both in the CCU and the Emergency Department.

In 1989, she was hired by a group of physicians to coordinate the Hospital Christian Fellowship. Through the Hospital Christian Fellowship, Lee hosted banquets and other activities for NMMC and its affiliated community hospitals. NMMC hosted two national Hospital Christian Fellowship conferences. “People came from all across the United States and were so impressed with the hospitality of the people at our hospital,” she said. She also spoke at conferences in California, Arizona, Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

“For 17 years I did both—worked part-time as a patient representative in the ER and the CCU, and coordinated the Hospital Christian Fellowship.” She also volunteered with local support groups for cancer patients and others dealing with catastrophic illness. For the past 10 years, Lee has worked as a patient representative solely in the Critical Care Unit.

Her husband passed away in 2013; their daughter, Lorinda, lives in New York. Retirement will give Lee more time to enjoy water aerobics classes at Tupelo Aquatic Center and to be involved with her church. She continues to host a weekly Bible study and her “prayer triplet” group that dates back to her Hospital Christian Fellowship days. 

“It has been a blessing to do what I felt like I was called to do,” Lee said. “Retirement is bittersweet. I have enjoyed my job and the opportunity to meet and serve people who have come from all over the country to be with their loved ones. I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to serve here.”

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