Gloria (Mobey) Parker, VHS 1959 Always Making A Difference
By Linda Baker, VHS 1969
You never know what will inspire a lifelong passion or career. For little Gloria Mobey, the seeds of her future were sown when she and younger sister Sylvia (Hosie, VHS 1961) attended their cousins’ graduations from nursing school. They began playing ‘nurse’, with Gloria always the nurse and Sylvia always the patient, and to this day treasure the photo taken of them in tiny copycat nursing uniforms.
As early as Grade 10, Gloria applied to the Royal Jubilee School of Nursing wait list and was accepted, pending her achieving the necessary prerequisite courses and marks at school. “In those days,” says Gloria, “girls could be secretaries, nurses, or teachers. I chose nursing, but also ended up teaching a lot of nurses throughout my career.”
Gloria was slated to attend Mt. View High School. However her mother taught at George Jay Elementary and she could get a ride to Vic High every day instead of getting herself to Mt. View. So she applied to Vic High citing her desire to learn German, (Mt. View didn’t offer it), and was accepted. She was active in the Future Nurses’ and Future Teachers’ clubs. “They had the best field trips,” says Gloria. And along with sister Sylvia, she was in the Modern Dance Club. “Going to Vic High turned out to be a smart move,” says Gloria. “and I did learn German.” Some of her SJ friends had gone to Mt. View, and one of them told her she’d gotten a much better overall education at Vic High. “It was definitely the best high school in Victoria,” says Gloria. “I think the standards were higher, and you were just expected to do your best.”
By 1965, Gloria’s sister Sylvia was a teacher in Victoria, and says school principals competed to get the best teachers on their staff. “Vic High was expected to get the best teachers,” says Sylvia. “People wanted to teach there, it would be a feather in your cap to get a position there.”
Gloria was a bit of a rebel at Vic High, but did well and earned enough credits that she ended up being able to forego one subject. She and three other girls were in a high-achiever math class of mostly boys. The teacher started the first class of the year by saying to the girls, ‘You go sit at the back of the class. My job is to prep these boys for engineering. I don’t care about you as you are the weak sisters.’ Gloria was incensed and asked the administration, but the school wouldn’t move her to another class. So she spent math class at the back, doing homework for other subjects.
Gloria and Old Vic
In 1973 Sylvia was recruited by Vic High Vice-Principal Reg Reid to create the big Memorial (now Save-On) Arena Come Give A Cheer show for Vic High’s centennial celebrations in 1976. Naturally Sylvia recruited Gloria, who ended up helping with costumes for the show. At the eleventh hour, the current Home Ec/Sewing teacher was unable to help, so Gloria quickly designed the costume for the show’s main character, Old Vic, played by popular Vic High teacher Tommy Mayne. “It was basically a long black and gold nightshirt,” says Gloria, “with Old Vic on the front, and Mr. Mayne loved it. He told me years later that it went with him every time he moved and I know he wore it in some Victoria parades.” Tommy eventually donated his beloved costume to the Vic High Archives and Museum, where it lives quietly between sheets of acid-free tissue and is brought out for occasional display. (What stories that costume could tell!)
A Career in Nursing
Needless to say, Gloria did well at nursing school, eventually earning a Masters of Science in Administration. In the meantime, though, working at Glengarry Private Hospital and Tillicum Lodge she became very interested in geriatrics. As a result she became the co-ordinator who opened the Geriatric Assessment and Treatment Center at Royal Jubilee Hospital. Then it was back to the ailing Tillicum Lodge where she helped design a groundbreaking approach to supporting Alzheimers’ patients at the replacement facility, The Lodge at Broadmead, and became the Director of Nursing there.
It was while working full-time at Broadmead that she did online and in-person work to earn her Masters of Science from the University of Colorado. “U.S. physicians attending those courses loved having us Canadians in the program,” says Gloria. “We brought a lot of knowledge and experience about the Canadian system of health care, and they were keen to learn about it.”
During her career, Gloria was involved in numerous organizations and boards in the nursing and health care fields, like the RNABC (including 2 terms as president), on the board of the Canadian Nurses Association, and the Canadian Medical Association (Care to the Elderly Committee). She also chaired the blue ribbon Ethics Committee created by then provincial Minister of Health Peter Dueck, where euthanasia (assisted dying) was a contentious issue.
With her Masters in Science, and as an accreditor, she also taught nursing in China for several months, and did contract work for Nigel House, a long term care facility in Victoria for adults 19 – 55 with complex physical and mental health care needs.
The Blizzard of 1996
Most people in Victoria remember the catastrophic snowfall of Christmas 1996, but for folks like Gloria as the Director of Nursing at Broadmead Care, it was literally a life and death situation because many patients couldn’t feed or dress themselves. “I was on vacation when the nursing supervisor called,” says Gloria, to tell me we had no staff. “My husband and I shovelled through snow piled to the top of our back door and out to the road, where a passing BC Hydro truck drove us to the Royal Oak Mall, and from there we were able to walk to Broadmead.” They were there for three days before regular staffing resumed, with Gloria’s husband helping out in the kitchen. “I put the more capable patients (mostly veterans) to help out wherever possible, and put out a call through (radio station) CFAX for care workers and volunteers to go to the nearest facility to help. I was so touched by the people that showed up at Broadmead, leaving their homes and families and trudging through snow to volunteer. We did have one veteran die, and the Army Reserves had to come to move the body to a local funeral home. “His family said he’d have loved that his final journey was in the capable hands of the Army Reserves.”
“I loved every minute of my nursing career,” says Gloria. Her compassion and enthusiasm still shine through, for nursing to patients in need, for innovating better ways to help the elderly, and for inspiring others through her administrative work. In the end, that’s what matters the most, the human connection, the compassionate, and the difference we can make. Thank you, Gloria.
Note: Here’s Sylvia Hosie’s story, as told at her 2023 induction into the Vic High Black & Gold Honour Roll.