Sister Joseph Mary Watson, O.P., 95, a member of the Sisters of St. Dominic, Amityville, for almost 70 years, died April 8.
Born as Rita in Astoria, she graduated from Mary Louis Academy, Jamaica Estates, and then worked for a few years before entering the Novitiate in Amityville in 1949.
She received her habit and religious name in 1950 and professed final vows in 1954.
From 1951-1954, she studied nursing at Mary Immaculate Hospital, Jamaica. Upon receiving her RN, she was appointed assistant head nurse at Mary Immaculate.
She received a Bachelor of Science degree at Marquette University and then went on to earn a Master of Science at St. John’s University, Jamaica. She then joined the faculty at Mary Immaculate School of Nursing, Jamaica, and later was on the faculty at St. Catherine Hospital School of Nursing in Williamsburg.
From 1962 – 1965, she was nursing supervisor at Our Lady of Consolation Residence, Amityville. In 1965, she joined the nursing faculty as assistant professor at Molloy College, Rockville Centre, where she remained until 1976.
During her time at Molloy, she pursued doctoral studies at the University of Pittsburgh. In 1972, she was the first person in the United States to be awarded a Ph.D. with a specialty in maternal nursing.
In 1968, she received the Mead Johnson Award for Graduate Education in Nursing and a National Institute of Health Grant to offset the cost of her studies. She was a member of Sigma Theta Tau, the national honor society of nursing.
During the 1970s, she was a member of the Health Services Committee of the Sisters’ Advisory Council of the Rockville Centre Diocese, and later ministered at Mercy Hospital, Rockville Centre; Elmhurst General Hospital; and South Nassau Communities Hospital, Oceanside.
In 1987 she was a nurse in Carlin Hall, the infirmary at the Motherhouse in Amityville.
In Amityville, she was the “nurse on call” assisting the mothers and soon-to-be mothers as they adjusted to a new life in this country. She offered advice and assistance to these women and helped care for their babies. When a baby was sick, she often wheeled the carriage to her own room and cared for the baby during the night hours.
In 1990, Sister Joseph marked a ministerial change when she joined the Finance Office at the Motherhouse. For more than a decade she dealt with Medicare and health insurance issues for the Sisters.
Sister Joseph was predeceased by her sister, Sister Jean Margaret, O.P., and by her brothers, Father Joseph Watson, S.J., and Father Vincent Watson, S.J.
Burial was in the Sisters’ Cemetery in Amityville.