Mavis L. "Bradley" Morrissey, 81, of Northeast Philadelphia, a nurse in the medical department at The Inquirer and the Philadelphia Daily News for 30 years who once saved the life of a senior vice president, died Saturday of complications of pneumonia at Jeanes Hospital.
A native of Luzerne County, Pa., Mrs. Morrissey lived with her family in Butte, Mont., in the 1940s and fondly remembered her years in the "Wild West." She returned to Luzerne County to attend Mercy Hospital School of Nursing in Wilkes-Barre.
After graduating in 1949, Mrs. Morrissey joined the nursing staff at Albert Einstein Medical Center. She lived in Logan and met Thomas Morrissey in the neighborhood. They married in 1952. While raising their four children, she continued to work one night a week at Einstein. She was active with the Girl Scout Troop, Mother's Club and fund-raising variety shows at St. Albert the Great Church in Huntingdon Valley.
In 1971, when her oldest daughters were teenagers, Mrs. Morrissey began working the Saturday-night shift in The Inquirer's medical department.
"She said she would rather go to work than worry about what we were doing," daughter Nancy Karahuta said.
In 1982, Mrs. Morrissey switched to working five days a week. She bandaged pressmen who were injured on the job in the printing plant and distributed cold medications and sound advice to editors and writers in the Inquirer and Daily News newsrooms. She always said her goal was to keep the employees on the job so the papers could keep rolling, her daughter said.
In late spring of 1990, she treated Maxwell E.P. King for anaphylactic shock. King, who was then senior vice president for distribution and marketing at The Inquirer, later described the incident in an article for Inquirer Magazine.
"By my side, Mavis Morrissey, the company nurse, expertly balanced the demands of the job at hand: keeping the oxygen mask on my twisting, turning head, sticking my arm with a critically needed shot of epinephrine, calling the rescue squad, summoning the building security force to help, squeezing my arm, patting my face, talking to me constantly to force me to stay awake.
"Later at Hahnemann University Hospital's emergency room, it became clear what a critical role Mavis had played. I had suffered a severe allergic reaction to a chemical preservative in a package of dried fruit. . . . By the time I got to Mavis' office, my face was blotched with red welts and I couldn't breathe," King wrote.
Mrs. Morrissey and King became friends after the incident. "I had great affection for her," he said recently.
"She was caring, compassionate, and knowledgeable," said Anne Burke, a nurse who was Mrs. Morrissey's supervisor in the newspapers' medical department. "We were a team. We enjoyed each other's company. She was dependable - you never had to ask her for something twice," Burke said.
Mrs. Morrissey took advantage of a company buyout in 1996 but continued to work as a contract part-time employee until 2001.
After retiring, she kept up her nursing skills as a volunteer at Jeanes Hospital in the Fox Chase section of Philadelphia.
Her healing hands crafted colonial-style furniture for her dining room. As early woodworkers did, she fit the pieces together with tongue and groove instead of nails, her daughter said. She also was an expert tailor, and designed and sewed prom and wedding dresses for her daughters and Halloween costumes for her grandchildren.
She enjoyed bowling, trips to local casinos, and shopping.
In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Morrissey is survived by daughters Kathleen Smith, Eileen Bratton and Judy; a sister; and seven grandchildren. Her husband died in 1989.
Friends may call from 7 to 9 p.m. tomorrow and from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Givnish Funeral Home, 10975 Academy Rd., Philadelphia. A Funeral Mass will be said at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Albert the Great Roman Catholic Church, 212 Welsh Rd., Huntingdon Valley. Burial will be in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Cheltenham.
Memorial donations may be made to the Nursing Foundation of Pennsylvania, Contribution Processing, 2578 Interstate Dr., Suite 101, Harrisburg, Pa. 17110.