By Deb Peterson
“Thanks to Mary, I learned how satisfying it is to be able to help the community.”
Those words from Josee Schliemann, benefactor of the Schliemann Center for Women’s Health Education, express the essence of Dr. Mary Wren’s work for the women and families of the Twin Lakes community. The beloved doctor, a native of Cotter, died September 5 after a long struggle with cancer. She served her community as Chief of Obstetric Services at The Center for Women at Baxter Regional Medical Center, envisioned and helped create the Schliemann Center for Women’s Health Education, served on the Women’s Health Advisory Board, the Board of Admissions at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, the Board of Directors at BRMC, and was recognized for many accomplishments.
“I have always admired Mary’s dedication to whatever she was doing, whether it was taking care of patients or volunteering to string a strand of lights for a fundraiser,” said Amanda Thornton, an advanced nurse practitioner who worked with Mary at The Center for Women. “As a colleague, it made me aspire to be better. She put her entire self into whatever she was doing. She always spent the time needed with each patient, no matter who it was or what was going on. You never felt rushed. Still, today, even after she has retired, not a day goes by that I don’t have a patient ask about her. She made a lasting impact on this community and on my life.”
Cindy Costa of the Baxter Regional Hospital Foundation was one of Mary’s patients. “Mary was always such an inspiration to me,” Cindy said. “First as my physician—every woman should have someone as caring as she always was with her patients. Secondly, as someone I had the privilege to work with at the Schliemann Center for Women’s Health Education. It was always a vision of hers to have a special place for women to be able to educate themselves on their health and to have the support they need. And last, but certainly not least, it meant the world to me to have Mary as a friend. Her sense of humor, compassion, love of her family (including the furry ones) and friends are just a few of the things I will always carry with me.”
Josee was also one of Mary’s patients. “I became Dr. Wren’s patient many years ago and was immediately touched by her warmth and her kindness,” Josee said. “My husband had Alzheimer’s, had suffered a paralyzing stroke, and was a resident at Good Samaritan. Mary always inquired about his condition and, most of all, was concerned about my well-being. She suggested I read, “The Notebook,” and it did help me greatly. One day Mary told me about her passion and asked me to join the board of what became the Schliemann Center for Women’s Health Education. This has changed my life, and I will always be thankful to Dr. Wren. She truly is my hero!”
Mary’s cousin, Pat Wingard, worked along side Mary for 15 years. “She was a wonderful person and a great doctor who loved her patients,” Pat said. “I will miss her smile and her great sense of humor. She always had funny things to say.”
Donna McMullen, director of marketing at BRMC, remembers Mary’s playful side as a native of Cotter. “I can still hear her talking about tricking visiting cousins who would grab the rope swing in Big Spring Park and drop into the swimming hole, not knowing the water was only 59 degrees! ‘Oh, how we laughed at their yelps of surprise, she said.’”
Donna admires how Mary turned the challenge of her health struggles into an opportunity by lecturing on stress at the Baxter Regional Center for Integrative Medicine.
“When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure,” Donna said. “Dr. Mary Wren was our Ozark Mountain treasure.” M! October/November 2015