Mary Coggins Brocking, 93, died November 4 in Richmond, Virginia after a brief illness. She is survived by her daughter, Elisabeth Brocking of Alexandria, Virginia, a brother, Joseph Coggins, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Born November 26, 1921 in Waterloo, New York, Mary was the sole girl in a family of five children. She earned an RN and then received a scholarship from CUA for a B.S.N. program in public health which she began in January 1943, graduating in May, 1945.
Mary’s experience at CUA was among her life’s high points. She appreciated the depth and breadth of her education—philosophy and history as well as professional training—and loved living in D.C. during the tense but exciting years of World War II.
Mary applied her knowledge in subsequent leadership positions, such as by instituting a multilingual public health outreach program—a novelty in those days—at a large hospital in Rochester, New York. She returned to CUA and earned an M.S.N in 1956, specializing in psychiatric nursing.
Mary later directed a school of nursing in Yakima, Washington and was on the faculty at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Moving to Richmond, Virginia, in 1972, she served on the faculty of MCV/VCU, retiring as an Associate Professor. At MCV, she spearheaded changes to the clinical component for students, moving away from the then-traditional focus on state mental institutions and toward other places where people were under stress, including jails, juvenile detention facilities, and short-term inpatient care. Combing her public health and psychiatric training, she pushed students to consider factors beyond the diagnosis such as family support, cultural beliefs, and community resources or their absence.
Her Funeral Mass will be held at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Richmond on December 7. In lieu of flowers, please make memorial contributions to Dean’s Fund, Catholic University School of Nursing,