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Maryellen K. Campbell, 87, critical care nurse at Deaconess and Buffalo General hospitals

March 13, 1931 – Sept. 28, 2018

Maryellen K. Campbell was among the pioneers in the development of critical care for patients in Buffalo area hospitals.

Beginning her nursing career just as intensive care units were being established, she helped initiate the nursing protocols for them.

Mrs. Campbell worked in critical care medicine for most of her 44 years as a registered nurse, retiring from Buffalo General Hospital as nursing coordinator for the medical ICU.

She died Sept. 28 in Buffalo General Medical Center of lung cancer. She was 87.

Born in Buffalo, the former Maryellen K. Schank was a 1948 graduate of East High School and ranked first in her graduating class in 1951 at the Deaconess Hospital School of Nursing.

After marrying James F. Campbell in 1951, she worked in hospitals in Florida, Maryland and Pennsylvania, where her husband was transferred for his job as an aerospace engineer. He died in 1996.

Returning to the Buffalo area in 1972, Mrs. Campbell was an ICU nurse at Deaconess Hospital until its merger in 1986 with Buffalo General, where she continued in the medical ICU until her retirement in 1995.

Her dedication and accomplishments proved to be an inspiration to her two daughters.

Dr. Lucy A. Campbell is an intensive care doctor at Buffalo General Medical Center and Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital.

Dr. Margaret M. Burke was a pediatric clinical specialist for 19 years and is now a freelance medical writer.

“She always stood up for what was right for the patients and family, even if she had to ruffle some feathers,” Dr. Campbell said of her mother.

Early in the Blizzard of 1977, Mrs. Campbell drove to work at Deaconess and spent the next four days and nights at the hospital, where she said the nurses took turns sleeping two to a patient bed during their breaks. By the time they were able to leave, they only had cookies to eat.

Her daughters described her as adventurous and fun-loving, noting she liked to travel, visiting England, Germany and the Netherlands. She hiked and camped often in Letchworth State Park and around Ithaca and Watkins Glen; and vacationed in Vermont and Cape Cod many times.

A longtime resident of the Town of Tonawanda and recently of Williamsville, she was a parishioner of Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, where she was active in the Altar and Rosary Society.

Her faith played a significant part in her life. She stood in the pouring rain in a field in Toronto in September 1984 so she could see Pope John Paul II.

She also was a strong supporter of animal rescue groups, including the SPCA Serving Erie County and Greyhound Rescue Adoption Team, from which she adopted three retired racing greyhounds. Several of her dogs were named after saints.

In addition to her daughters, survivors include a niece, a nephew and four step-grandchildren.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, in Blessed Sacrament Church, 263 Claremont Ave., Town of Tonawanda.

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