A Jewel of a Gift
Jewel Plumb beams when she remembers her husband, James, or "Jimmy" as she affectionately calls him. "It's a good feeling knowing that this was something he wanted to do," she says, referring to her recent gift to Mercy Medical Center.
In memory of her husband, James F. Plumb Jr., Jewel sponsored the nurses' station on Mercy's new Cardiac Stroke Center. Jim was a patient on that floor before his death in November 2004. "It was important to us to support what we consider the heart of the floor. The nurses and doctors are really the core and center of any unit."
An Alabama native, Jewel met Jim when he was in the service stationed at Fort Rucker. They were married within six months after their first date and moved to Cedar Rapids in 1952 where Jim had a job waiting for him at Iowa Manufacturing in the advertising and publishing departments.
At the time, Howard Hall (for whom Mercy's Hall Radiation Center was named) was president of Iowa Manufacturing, and Jim Plumb's father, James. F. Plumb, Sr., was secretary-treasurer and vice-president. As Jewel fondly remembers, "my husband became the 'unofficial company historian.'"
It seemed only natural that Jim would become a collector of artifacts, stories and memorabilia during his long career with Iowa Manufacturing. He grew up with the company. Starting at age four, he would often accompany his father to work on the weekends. Then, at age thirteen, he was hired to work during the summer picking up all the nuts and bolts that dropped to the railroad tracks and returning them to the factory. During World War II, every piece of metal was precious.
Jewel has taken on the role of caretaker of many of Jim's meticulous records, photographs, and journals. Her southern charm and grace emerges as she shares her memories and stories of their life together. Some keepsakes have been donated to The History Center. Archives related to the history of Iowa Manufacturing were given to Brucemore where they've been used in local historical publications such as "Call Me Howard," a story of the Hall-Perrine Foundation.
Today Mercy Medical Center has become the recipient of the Plumbs' generosity and support. It was during Jim's hospital stay that they came to appreciate single patient rooms for privacy, healing, and comfort.
Jewel recalls, "Patients and family members are so vulnerable during hospital stays. Comfortable, beautiful surroundings coupled with the wonderful care we received from Mercy nurses, doctors and staff meant a lot to both of us."