The late Betty Lester was the last surviving nurse-midwife recruited by Mary Breckinridge in the early years of the Frontier Nursing Service. Her childhood dream of becoming a nurse-midwife and her desire to provide healthcare to people in rural areas was realized in 1928 when she learned of the FNS from a classmate at the General Lying-In Hospital/Nurse-Midwifery School in England. She immediately applied and, after some additional training, came to Kentucky to join Mrs. Breckinridge as America’s 13th nurse-midwife.
Her early work with FNS as Field Supervisor for the district nursing clinics sent her traveling on horseback throughout the 700 square-mile FNS service area. She continued in that position until 1939 when she went to England to serve her country during World War II, returning to Kentucky at the war’s end.
During her long career with the Frontier Nursing Service, Betty served in a variety of capacities. Among them – practicing nurse-midwife, district clinic manager for the Betty Lester Clinic at Bob Fork, social service director and hospital superintendent.