For Lura Hile, helping others as a nurse was a lifetime goal.
Lura Hile always knew she wanted to be a nurse. Even as a girl, she set up a nursing station in the backyard of her Harrisburg home.
“I wanted to be a nurse from the day I was born,” says the Homeland resident. “That was my goal in life, and I became a nurse.”
Hile was born in Harrisburg in the same hospital where she first trained as a nurse. Lura was named after her grandmother on her father’s side, a woman she remembers was “a sweetheart.” Throughout her life, she says, the unusual name “was a good conversation opener.”
She grew up in the city in a neighborhood near Reservoir Park, the hilltop park that affords views for miles. She and her three sisters – Lura was the oldest -- would jump rope, play hopscotch, and go sledding down steep, closed roads during the winter. Her father, a truck driver and then office manager for Sun Oil, was a good-natured man who graciously took all the teasing he got about having four daughters and no sons. While he worked hard, his wife and daughters vacationed annually in Wildwood, NJ, staying at a hotel owned by Lura’s aunt and uncle.
“I can’t swim, so I didn’t go too far out in the ocean,” she says.
Lura’s mother was a stay-at-home mom who had once worked as cashier at the Alva Restaurant, a Harrisburg establishment fondly remembered by longtime city residents. She was “a peach,” Lura recalls. “Everybody liked her.” One morning, her mother let the kids sleep in while she went to the market.
“We stayed in bed, and she came home with a bunny rabbit!” Lura recalls.
After graduating from John Harris High School, now Harrisburg High School, Lura immediately pursued her dream of nursing. She trained at Polyclinic Hospital, the uptown Harrisburg facility that’s now a campus of PinnacleHealth.
“I loved taking care of people,” she says. “I always felt I was born to be a nurse.”
Lura met and married George Hile, whose job in the office of Hecht’s Department Store took the young couple to Washington, DC. They lived in the nation’s capital, and Lura continued her nursing career at Providence Hospital, in Northeast Washington. While there, she was named Nurse of the Year, an award she believes she won for her caring attitude toward patients.
Two other children followed after the couple returned to the Harrisburg area. When the kids were older, Lura returned to her beloved nursing.
“I wish I could still do it,” she says today.
At Homeland Center, Lura enjoys every activity she can. She succeeds so readily at bingo that she has to give away all the candy bars she wins. She enjoys books by Beverly Lewis, the Lancaster-born, Christian novelist whose romances feature Amish characters. She does word search puzzles because “they make you think.” A lifelong fitness enthusiast, she continues to enjoy exercise classes.
At Homeland, the food is good, and “everybody’s really nice,” she says. She appreciates the dedication of Homeland nursing staff, who are “really friendly and nice.”
“I think nurses almost have to be nice,” she adds, with the voice of experience. “They have to like people.”