The Jeanne C. Mayer Centennial Scholarship in Nursing was established by the Mayer Foundation to support undergraduate students at UCLA School of Nursing.
Some people just make an entrance. Such was the case with Jeanne C. Mayer, especially when wearing outfits like her elegant, floor-length, long-sleeve Pucci dress and matching turban. “Most couldn’t pull that off, but she would wear it and look so stunning,” her granddaughter Sarah Kalter says. Yes, Mayer had a deep love of fashion, culture, art and...nurses.
The Kentucky native became a registered nurse, a role of which she was extremely proud. She loved everything about the career: from the camaraderie with fellow nurses to swapping jokes with physicians. “Her whole life she had a kind, thoughtful and caring nature,” Kalter says. “I think that early foundation in nursing is part of where that came from.”
Jeanne married Herbert R. Mayer, and the couple lived in Cincinnati, Ohio for a bit. Then, following a dream, they moved cross-country to California, Kalter’s seven-year-old mother in tow. “They found a house they fell in love with in Sherman Oaks,” Kalter says. “They lived there until their deaths – it was a place they cherished.”
A descriptor that pops up often when hearing about Mayer is “lifelong learner.” She delighted in working as a docent at the La Brea Tar Pits, especially when her grandchildren’s elementary school classes visited on field trips. “She’d give an amazing tour, then have candies for everybody at the end,” Kalter says. “She had this amazing way of making everything feel special.”
UCLA was another place where Mayer exercised this love of learning, joining the university’s PLATO Society: Partners in Learning Actively Teaching Ourselves.
Mayer relished the lectures and academic programs, especially as the organization’s objective was in keeping with her own passions. “She just had an intellectual and cultural curiosity that stuck with her throughout her life,” Kalter says.
A love of UCLA was something Mayer shared with Herbert, who was a board member at UCLA. Kalter remembers, “They always had tremendous respect for the school.”
At the end of her life, Mayer developed Alzheimer’s. Still, Kalter says, “I never saw her before that without full makeup, high heels and dressed to the nines.” Jeanne passed away on March 29, 2011.
“My grandfather thought the sun rose and set on her shoulders,” Kalter says. “Losing her was really hard for him.”
Herbert Mayer was determined to honor his late wife. “Because she was such a lifelong learner, valued education so deeply and was proud of her time as a registered nurse, we felt that a scholarship in her name was a wonderful way for her memory to live on,” Kalter says, “for her to give other students a chance to pursue a nursing career.”
“It was a privilege to know her, it was a privilege to be loved by her,” Kalter says. “It’s a privilege to allow her memory to live on.”