Judith C. Kelleher, a former Sacramento nurse who was a visionary leader in the practice of emergency nursing, died Jan. 24 of natural causes, her family said. She was 89.
A nurse since World War II, Mrs. Kelleher recognized a need to train floor nurses to care properly for emergency patients. In 1970, she organized a specialized course for emergency nurses and cofounded the Emergency Department Nurses Association. She was elected the first president of the national group, known today as the Emergency Nurses Association.
She moved to Sacramento in 1973 and worked at Kaiser Hospital on Morse Avenue until 1978. She earned a bachelor's degree in nursing from California State University, Sacramento.
Mrs. Kelleher retired from a Kaiser hospital in Anaheim Hills in the mid-1980s and settled in Carmichael. She remained active in the Sacramento area and nationally as a consultant and advocate for emergency nursing, which was recognized as a specialty by the American Nurses Association in 2012.
"Nursing was just in her nature," said her son Daniel. "From the time that I can remember, we had to stop at every car wreck we passed."
Judith Charlene Givens was born Aug. 5, 1923, in Dean, Texas. She served in the U.S. Cadet Nurse Corps in World War II.
She attended nursing school at a Dallas hospital and completed a nursing program at San Joaquin General Hospital near Stockton. She earned a master's degree in nursing and a degree in public health nursing from California State University, Long Beach.
She was married for 37 years and had four children with Daniel R. Kelleher, who died in 1988. She lived in Stockton since 2006.
Mrs. Kelleher is survived by her children, Patricia Sullivan of Sutter Creek, Pamela Millonida of Wilton, Daniel of Vacaville and Dennis of Lotus, as well as 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
A memorial service is set for 11:30 a.m. Friday at Callaghan Mortuary, 3833 East Ave., Livermore. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Emergency Nurses Association Memorial Endowment at www.ena.org.