The latest meeting of the Kiowa County Memorial Hospital Advisory Board was like any other meeting, albeit a little bittersweet.
Jackie Sherer, a cheerleader for the hospital since the 1980s, was attending her final meeting on the board. Cake and snacks were served to mark the occasion.
“A couple of times I had trouble swallowing and tears came to my eyes,” said Sherer, who describes her age as “91 and seven-eighths.”
Sherer was born and raised in Dodge City. She married a man there who was in the military and lived there for many years. But after marrying a second time, she moved to Kiowa County in 1971. She and her late husband, Johnny Sherer, lived south of Mullinville on a farm where his nephew, Cody Sherer, now lives. Jackie Sherer has long since moved inside Mullinville city limits.
She made friends in the community and her district’s county commissioner, the late Floyd Olson, asked her if she would like to be on the hospital board.
“I told him I didn’t know a thing about it, but I said I’d love to and I’ve never regretted it,” she said.
Back then, board members were appointed by the county commission. Nowadays they are elected to the board.
“Every term since then I’ve had to run,” she said. “If they could stand me a few more times I stayed.”
Sherer has served the board off and on during the past 30-some years. Her latest stint with the board started in 2004. She was with the board during its most challenging period, following the 2007 tornado.
There were people who did not want to bring the hospital back, saying Pratt and Dodge City both had hospitals. But Sherer, who was then attending board meetings in a tent, was adamant about wanting to restore the hospital in Kiowa County.
“After the tornado, she was one of the leaders in helping establish healthcare back in Kiowa County,” said Mary Sweet, administrator of KCMH.
Dennis McKinney, a hospital board member, recalled a time when Sherer referred a friend from Mullinville to KCMH. The friend had a major health issue and had been using the Veterans Administration Hospital without much success. She had her healthcare needs met at KCMH.
“It tells you two things,” McKinney said. “It’s good to have Jackie as a neighbor and it’s good to have her on the hospital board.”
Sherer said she is slowing down just a little bit. She is still active with Kiowa County Senior Center, the Mullinville United Methodist Church and the PTD (Pretty Tough Dames) Club in Mullinville.
Sweet said Sherer is “a supporter not only of healthcare, but all of Kiowa County and she brings knowledge from all the places she’s worked with.”
Sherer is scaling back a bit, leaving the hospital board, but she said, “They told me I could come back.”