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A different kind of family

Kevin and Marilyn Weedman served as nurses at Douglas County Hospital for 34 years each. Both are retiring this year. (Photo by Leah Stinson)

Since 1978, Douglas County Hospital (DCH) has seen many changes.

1981 brought more hospital beds and advances in X-ray, surgery and outpatient facilities.

1994 brought a new emergency facility and main entrance.

1998 brought the Radiation Oncology Unit.

2002 brought a new Surgery Center with numerous operating and recovery rooms.

2007 brought the Medical Oncology Unit on the main floor.

2010 brought a 110,000 square foot, four-floor addition.

Kevin and Marilyn Weedman are two of the very few who can say they have seen all of these changes before their very eyes.

And now, after 34 years, the Weedmans are saying goodbye to their family at DCH.

Though the Weedmans' service as registered nurses (RNs) at DCH dates back to 1978, their story begins long before that.

It was not their mutual love for nursing that brought Kevin and Marilyn together. In fact, they were brought together by another couple's marriage.

In 1972, Kevin's brother was betrothed to Marilyn's sister. It was at their wedding the first sparks flew.

At the time, Kevin was in the Navy and Marilyn was just a high school student.

Both Kevin and Marilyn attended the St. Cloud Hospital School of Nursing (SCHSN) from 1974 to 1977, after Kevin had completed his years of service and Marilyn had completed high school. In 1977, they had a wedding of their own.

Immediately after graduating from SCHSN, they were offered jobs at the St. Cloud Hospital (SCH).

After a year of nursing at SCH, a friend from nursing school invited them to visit the hospital he worked at: DCH.

This visit quickly morphed into applying, interviewing and getting hired for both Kevin and Marilyn.

They had no clue they would be staying at DCH for 34 years. The Weedmans had planned on moving out west to start a family within a couple years.

Clearly, plans changed.

The friendly atmosphere kept the Weedmans from leaving. They particularly enjoyed the different social gatherings hosted by the hospital, from Christmas parties to softball tournaments.

Kevin's first years were spent working in the emergency room. He was later promoted to head nurse for this department.

"I liked the emergency room just because you didn't know what was coming," said Kevin.

He also worked for other clinics through the ER, including neurology and oncology.

Four-and-a-half years ago, he became a full-time oncology nurse.

Marilyn started as an RN in the intensive care unit (ICU) and then transferred to the post-anesthesia recovery room for the rest of her 29 years, where she has served as manager for the last 10 years.

The role of manager comes with multiple hats. Marilyn knew she had to be "ready for anything."

The Weedmans' dedication to caretaking was not confined to the hospital, though.

In the early 1980s, a snowstorm stranded a cancer patient in his home. He had no means in which to do his routine chemotherapy.

This hardly posed a problem to Kevin.

"I told him 'I'll just cross-country ski over,' " said Kevin.

And that he did, and told very few people about the incident.

The Weedmans felt surrounded by people with similar philanthropic ideals.

When Marilyn was hospitalized many years ago, her sister came to offer company and consolation.

However, Marilyn was also visited by a myriad of hospital employees.

"My sister said, I could've stayed home today," said Marilyn.

Kevin and Marilyn recounted many other stories of charity by the hospital employees throughout the years.

"They're very community- and family-oriented. If someone's in need, they just go that extra step," said Marilyn.

It's no wonder the Weedmans will miss their coworkers.

"It's our family away from our family," said Marliyn.

"You want to keep in touch," agreed Kevin.

And it's not just the people with nametags they'll miss.

"Really, it's the patient contact and taking care of the patients [that we'll miss most]," said Marilyn.

The Weedmans will not miss their early mornings and late nights and working holidays, though.

Once both of the Weedmans are retired, they plan on spending more time enjoying the little things in life.

One of these little things is their grandson, Lincoln. The Weedmans' son and his wife gave birth to Lincoln four months ago.

Kevin will also help with the ski patrol at Andes, as he has done for many years.

Marilyn looks forward to doing more scrapbooking and reading.

Both hope to travel more. Marilyn dreams of seeing all 50 states.

Though they may travel, they plan on remaining in Alexandria and look back on the wonderful lives they've led together.

"I can honestly say I have no regrets," said Marilyn.