Strong Medicine

The story of Barbara (Knight) Coeur as related through writings and contributions of her children,

Patti, Ann, and Skip.

Barbara and Donald Knight as they contemplate the photographer, barefoot, and with a dog as hostage. About 1933

Barbara Jean Knight was born April 2, 1930 in Eau Claire, Wisc onsin, the daughter of Hazel and Bayard Knight, and the younger sister to Donald Knight. Barbara was an independent spirit, inspired by her father to not allow her thinking to be limited by convention, and by her mother to accomplish her goals both undeterred and without hesitation. This was in a time wherein women were still considered constrained to certain womanly tasks so to speak, but Barbara would have none of it.

In Barbara’s childhood, living a farm girls’ life near Eleva, Wisconsin, Barbara became ingrained with the concept of hard work and this spirit drove her all of her life to accomplish difficult goals and to take on intimidating responsibilities. Her efforts to rise from these humble beginnings was no easy achievement but Barbara succeeded, and to her credit, inspiring others along the way.

Barbara Knights’ Nursing School Photo 1950

Inspired, by Ann Kennedy, a nurse that owned the farm home her parents rented, Barbara set out to become a nurse herself and enrolled in the Luther Hospital School in Eau Claire, graduating in 1951. Later Barbara, by 1969 had achieved a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing from the University of Iowa. She followed this with a Master’s Degree in Administration from Western University in 1972. By 1978 James R. Thompson, Governor of Illinois appointed Barbara to the position of Chairman of the Board of Opinions for Professional Nursing in Illinois. These were only a few of the milestones of an exceptional career in medicine that included her work as a very talented surgical nurse and later as a nurse practitioner, repairing and healing those around her with an endless energy and dedication.

Barbara, after completing nursing school in Eau Claire, moved to Chicago, Illinois to do her clinical work to satisfy the requirements of nursing. She was at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, working in the heat and stress of the facility treating many underprivileged patients. She met her first husband, Richard Georges, in Chicago as he was there attending Dental School at the University of Illinois. They were married in1951.

With Daughter Ann, 1958

Barbara and her husband began a family with four children, Dana, Patti, Skip (really named Richard), and Ann. Later, moving to Stronghurst, Illinois where Richard was going to take over a dental practice of a dentist planning on retiring there, that dentist decided not to retire. As a result, the family moved to Carthage, Illinois in 1958. This small town would become where Barbara would spent most of her adult life. In Carthage she continued her medical education at Robert Morris College. More education was to come throughout her life. Later she earned her bachelor of science in nursing from the University of Iowa, her MBA from Western Illinois University, and a master’s degree in education from Sangamon State University. She also studied computer science from Gem City Business College.

At Carthage, 1960s, Looking Sporty!

Barbara worked as a nurse as her children were growing, and in 1968 the family moved to Burlington, Iowa enjoying the benefit of a larger city. It was at that time she also decided to pursue getting her Master’s Degree in Nursing, so finding an apartment in Iowa City, Iowa she attended the University of Iowa during the week, and returned home to her family on the weekend. Richard kept his dental practice in Carthage his entire adult life, so this made life a bit complicated for the family. The accumulated strain resulted in Barbara and Richard ending their marriage in 1969. Barbara and two of the children relocated to Iowa City where Barbara worked at night as a nurse and continued her schooling at the University of Iowa during the day.

At Daughter Patti’s Home in Louisville, Ky

While living in Iowa City Barbara renewed her friendship with Dr. James Coeur, MD, a past acquaintance that had a practice in Carthage, Illinois. This began the relationship that would bring joy to the second half of her life, and they were married in 1972. By 1978 James R. Thompson, Governor of Illinois appointed Barbara to the position of Chairman of the Board of Opinions for Professional Nursing in Illinois. This milestone was one of many in an exceptional career in medicine that included her work as a very talented surgical nurse and later as a nurse practitioner, repairing and healing those around her with an endless energy and dedication.

Computers had become to play a vital roll in health care during these times and Barbara had taken a keen interest in their use. As a result, Barbara enrolled at the Gem City Business College, studying computer science. This would result in her founding of Horizons Computer Systems, a computer assembly and service business providing technology services to the surrounding areas. Later she sold the business to its employees, returning to the medical field. Her accomplishments are a credit to how she grew with her times, progressing through the art and skill of health care, and then undertaking the challenge of computer technology.

Carthage, with Daugher Ann’s Children, 1992

Barbara, joining her husbands’ medical practice in Carthage, eventually becoming a Nurse Practitioner. This was early in the establishment of the Nurse Practitioner program in Illinois and as part of her participation in this program Barbara developed some of the questions that were then used in the Illinois State examination for this field. She was one of the first family nurse practitioners and worked at the Nauvoo Medical Clinic for several years. Until the end of her medical career Barbara maintained a Nurse Practitioner practice in Nauvoo, Illinois, close by Carthage.

 

Barbara also was a member of the American Nurses Association, Illinois Nurses Association, Kiwanis Club of Carthage and was Kiwanian of the Year in 1993, a member of the Memorial Hospital and Hancock County Nursing Home Association and the Nation Organization of Small Business in Electronics. In 1976, she was appointed to the Illinois Board of Opinions on Professional Nursing and served for several years.

Barbara lived a highly accomplished life and is remembered as a wonderful asset to her family, not only as a mother, a sister, and a daughter, but as an invaluable resource that provided much needed healing and consolation to many.