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Nurse advanced field with knowledge, initiative

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Mary Jane Hunter Dillon, for feature obit.

Mary Jane Hunter Dillon was a pioneer.

The Derry Township woman held respected positions throughout her nursing career and even saved her husband’s life thanks to her training, her daughters said.

“She had such a good reputation in her field,” said Diana Dillon-Smith of Derry Township.

Mrs. Hunter Dillon, 83, died Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014, in UPMC East, Monroeville, after a battle with breast cancer.

She graduated from Derry Township High School in 1949 and married Russell Dillon the next year. While he was serving with the Army in the Korean War, she graduated from Shadyside Hospital School of Nursing in 1952 and moved to Detroit, Dillon-Smith said.

There, she worked as a registered nurse and a registered respiratory therapist. She was a department head at Mt. Carmel Hospital in Detroit and started a bachelor’s degree program for respiratory therapy at the University of Detroit, where she taught.

“She lectured all over the United States on weekends,” Dillon-Smith said.

Her work was published in a nursing journal, and she started a medical equipment company and opened a medical retail store in Plymouth, Mich.

“She was very highly intelligent,” said daughter, Faun Dillon of Derry Township. “She was a go-getter. She was not afraid to take a chance.”

She baked a great loaf of bread, Dillon-Smith said.

“We never had store-bought bread,” she recalled.

When the war ended, the couple started a family of two girls and a boy, Jeffrey. They briefly moved back to Derry Township in the 1960s before spending many years living in Michigan. They spent the final years of their lives together in Derry Township.

In June 1973, Mrs. Hunter Smith’s medical training came in handy when she noticed her husband was exhibiting signs preceding a heart attack and was able to get help in time.

That save led to 52 years of marriage, her daughters said.

Mrs. Hunter Dillon is preceded in death by her husband. In addition to her son and two daughters, she is survived by 10 grandchildren; 15 great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews.

Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Friday in McCabe Funeral Home, 300 W. Third Ave., Derry. A service in the funeral home will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday with the Rev. John D. Tollner officiating. Interment will be private.

Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or [email protected].

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