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Who Was the Woodbury Building Named For?

Goodall nursing school’s first class. Dot Woodbury is seated in the middle

Goodall nursing school’s first class. Dot Woodbury is seated in the middle. 

Photo: Goodall Hospital 

By Lawrence Furbish, Sanford Historical Committee 

Who was Dorothy “Dot” Woodbury? The short answer is that she was a dedicated nurse who worked at Goodall Hospital in Sanford for 61 years. But there is much more to the story of the woman whose namesake building is soon to be torn down.  

Dot was born in a tenement at 70 School St. (now 86 School St.) on March 8, 1911, when home births were the norm. Her parents had emigrated from Yorkshire, England to work in the Goodall Mills. She was the second youngest of eight children who were all raised in that house. At age 3, she came down with polio, a much-feared disease at that time. When she was 10, she underwent surgery in Boston’s Children’s Hospital to correct a deformity in her foot that was caused by that disease.  

After graduating from Sanford High School in 1928, Dot applied to the new nursing school at Goodall Hospital. She was told the class was full and she would have to wait. But when one of the students had to withdraw, she was offered the opening. She began her training in October 1928, just a few months after the hospital had opened for business. She would live in the building, later named after her, for the next 20 years except for time spent away for additional training. This included a stint at Providence Lying-In Hospital and pediatric study at Seaside Hospital in Staten Island, N.Y. Upon graduating, she became a general duty nurse and her salary went up from $20 a month to $80 a month plus room, board, and uniforms. 

In 1933, Dot took additional training in anesthesia techniques and became Goodall’s nurse anesthetist, a position she would hold for the next 35 years. While working as an anesthetist, she also worked in the pharmacy, the X-ray department, as director of nursing, and even as the hospital administrator for three months while waiting for the new chief executive to arrive. She was well known for always arriving early for her shift, neatly attired in her nurse’s uniform and cap. Those who knew her well always mention what a tiny woman she was and yet how much energy and good cheer she exuded. 

When she approached the mandatory retirement age of 70, Dot petitioned the hospital’s board of trustees for an extension. It was granted, provided she reapply every six months for permission to stay on. She did so for another nine years, finally retiring in 1989. 

Dot Woodbury

Dot Woodbury 

Photo: Goodall Hospital 

In 1986, Goodall Hospital honored Dot for her many years of outstanding service by naming the Hospital Annex as the Woodbury Building and dedicating it to her. More than 100 friends, coworkers, and local officials gathered for the ceremony, and she received greetings via letter from Vice President George Bush and Gov. Joseph Brennen. When it was her time to speak, the podium reportedly had to be removed because she was too short to be seen behind it. She passed away in 1996 at the age of 85. Hers was undoubtedly a life well lived.

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