Mae Harden, Nurse
Mae Frances Harden, a nurse at Southampton Hospital for 33 years, died on April 30 at the Kanas Center for Hospice Care in Quiogue after a brief illness. She was 88.
Mrs. Harden, who lived in East Hampton, earned her nursing degree at St. Vincent’s School of Nursing in New York City and, while working as a nurse, went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from the State University at Oneonta and a master’s degree at Long Island University’s C.W. Post College.
At Southampton Hospital, where she began working in 1965, she rose to become the day-shift nursing supervisor and eventually transitioned into the role of patient advocate. She served as president of the Patient Representative Association of New York.
Mrs. Harden was born on Nov. 18, 1929, in Oradell, N.J., to Francis Eschenbach and the former Anne Barry. She grew up in Yonkers.
On Dec. 1, 1951, she married William F. Harden. The couple settled in Malvern, where all seven of their children were born. Mrs. Harden began her nursing career at Mercy Hospital in Rockville Centre, where she worked from 1955 to 1965. “In the beginning days, my dad took care of us on the weekend and she took weekend shifts,” said her daughter Eileen Kochanasz of East Hampton.
When the family moved to East Hampton in 1965, the youngest of her children was 10 months old, and she had the 7 a.m.-to-3 p.m. shift at Southampton Hospital. “Dad would get us off to school and she was home in the afternoon,” Ms. Kochanasz said.
Mrs. Harden “was an optimistic person with a wonderful sense of humor,” her family wrote. “She touched so many lives and helped so many people as a nurse and later in her career as the patient advocate at Southampton Hospital,” they recalled. “If you sought Mae’s help, she would be diligent in her efforts to find answers for whatever the problem was.”
She also did her part to help people outside the hospital setting, serving as chairwoman for a time of the East Hampton Catastrophic Illness Fund.
“Mae was devoted to her children and her grandchildren,” her family wrote. She organized family trips, made every holiday special, and was famous for her theme parties. For one, Ms. Kochanasz recalled, she gave everyone a couple of yards of fabric and had them come to the party in a costume or outfit incorporating the fabric. “She was fun like that.”
Mrs. Harden loved golf and was a member of the South Fork Country Club in Amagansett for many years. Later, she would often play with her nurse friends at the public course in Sag Harbor and take an annual golf trip to Ocean City, Md. She enjoyed travel and counted Alaska, Switzerland, Russia, Germany, Ireland, and England among her many destinations. A cousin, Noreen Radigan of Bayport, was her traveling companion.
She also enjoyed reading and was a member of the Red Hat Society.
Her husband died in 1996. She is survived by all seven children: Eileen Kochanasz and Raymond Harden of East Hampton, Jean Lia of Springs, Bill Harden of Lubbock, Tex., Kathleen Lester of Hampton Bays, Tom Harden of Calverton, and Paul Harden of Madison, Va.
She also leaves 15 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.
Visiting hours were held last Thursday at the Yardley and Pino Funeral Home in East Hampton. A funeral Mass was said on Friday at Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church in East Hampton, with burial following at the church cemetery on Cedar Street. The Rev. Peter Garry officiated.
The family has suggested donations to East End Hospice, P.O. Box 1048, Westhampton Beach 11978.