Countless Berkeley County natives owe their healthy start in life to Nurse Midwife Maude Evelyn Callen. One of 13 sisters and orphaned by age six, Nurse Maude, born in 1898, was raised by her physician uncle in Tallahassee, Florida. She received her nursing education at Florida A & M University and the Infirmary of Savannah Georgia. Following her
marriage to William D. Callen in 1921 and her graduation in 1922, they moved to Pineville for what was intended to be a temporary position that lasted a lifetime. Nurse Maude offered health services to hundreds of poor and isolated families. She would assist mothers with birthing, provide coaching and comfort, nutritional counseling, asses newborns to make sure they were healthy, give vaccinations, and would many times provide clothes and food for families in need. She taught midwifery and nursing at local schools.
Making her rounds in a four hundred mile area at the edge of Hell Hole Swamp, Nurse Maude often had to park her car and walk through mud, woods and creeks to reach her patients. Homes were lit by oil lamps and people still traveled to town by wagon or buggy. In 1951, Life Magazine was at its best and produced one of the finest photographic essays. A 12 page story titled “Nurse Midwife Maude Callen Eases Pain of Birth and Death” followed Maude and her work in Pineville, taking you on “Maude’s 16-Hour Day”. Among the many honors that Nurse Maude received, she was presented with the SC Order of the Palmetto, Honorary Degrees from Clemson University and MUSC, and was profiled in “On the Road” by Charles Kuralt. It is estimated that she delivered between 600 and 800 babies during her long career. After retiring from Public Health in 1971, Mrs. Callen continued to volunteer her services to the people of Berkeley County until her death in 1990. When asked about her life’s work she would simply state that she was doing what she loved. The love was mutual.
In choosing Mrs. Callen as the subject of the 2011 Berkeley County Heritage Collection Ornament, the selection committee felt that although not a native of Berkeley County, this strong, compassionate and determined woman merited being recognized as part of our history.