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Dr. Will Mayo's first assistant

Sister Mary Joseph Dempsey, born Julia Dempsey in Salamanca, NY, in 1856, was a formidable woman. Given “on the job” training, she displayed superlative technical skill and judgment in surgery and was for many years, Dr. Will Mayo’s first assistant, preferred over all others, including physicians. Often as Will paused to explain a procedure to the observing guest physicians, Sister Joseph would continue the operation. If that weren’t enough, she served as administrator for Saint Marys Hospital from 1892 until her death in 1939, overseeing staggering growth and diversification.

In our Oct. 26 & 27th concerts to honor the Sisters of Saint Francis we celebrate her story and many others. Since Sister Joseph was born to an Irish immigrant family that settled in Rochester when she was a child, we will sing, in her honor, A Gaelic Blessing of John Rutter.

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