On Friday, Kathleen Newcomb died after an altercation with her grandson in her Kings Park home, and since then we've received a lot of feedback from readers wishing to remember this long-time Kings Parker. The below feature was written by Denise Creighton in June of 2011 about Newcomb, and we're re-running it below to give locals an opportunity to celebrate Newcomb's life. If you knew her, please leave your remembrances in the comment stream below.
Katie Newcomb: From Nurse to Principal of Nursing School
By Denise Creighton
When Katie Newcomb was just 14 years old, she doctored her school identification in order to appear older and she began working summers as a ward attendant at the Kings Park State Hospital. It was there that she rose up the ranks to Principal of the School of Nursing, ultimately becoming Director of Nursing.
Newsomb's class at the School of Nursing consisted of only six young men and four young women. One of her fellow students, Clarence, became her husband during her senior year. Similarly motivated, the two earned their bachelor's and master's degrees from Adelphi University, Clarence went on to work as a personnel administrator at Pilgrim State Hospital. Kate began her career as a staff nurse and was later promoted to head nurse, and then principal of the nursing school. It was in this role that Newcomb found her greatest satisfaction.
"I loved working with the students," said Newcomb. "Being able to get things done for the students. The Class of '59 had to be my favorite. They really brought such joy. Some were from places as far away as Canada or California and were living on the grounds. For the holidays, I would bring them to my house for dinner."
At the time, many of the young nurses who were graduates of the KP School of Nursing were starting families. "We were able to be flexible with our young nurses' schedules. They loved to work and we were able to arrange shifts and schedules so that they could," Newcomb said.
In 1966, Newcomb served as Chief of Nursing Services. In 1971, she was appointed Acting Chief of Service. She was the first non-physicians appointed to that position at Kings Park State Hospital. In 1973, Newcomb began working as a Program Analyst for Regional Office of Mental Health Services. In March of 1984, her husband Charlie died. Newcomb started her new position at nearby Pilgrim State Hospital as Mental Health Unit Chief. She finally retired in 1991.
While working and working on graduate degrees, Newcomb and her husband raised four children: Barbara, Charles, Jr., Kathie Ann and Mark. She continues to live in Kings Park with her pride and joy, her now 22 year old grandson, Clarence.
Mrs. Kathleen Newcomb is a woman who devoted her entire adult life to the care of mentally ill patients. She hopes to see many of her former colleagues on Friday at the annual reunion to be held at Larkfield Manor.