‘Chieftains’ Contest Winner Also Became Health Care Pillar

Pauline (Polly) Carter
Pauline (Polly) Carter

Pauline (Polly) was born in Sapulpa in 1910 to Minnie Aldora Cue Page and Robert Lennard Page. Her parents met in 1896 when their families moved to this area and lived on adjoining farms five miles west of Sapulpa.

During her high school years Polly was a cheerleader of the Pep Club named the “White Peppers.” She was vice-president of the senior class and was a member of the year book staff.

Kermit Clifford Carter
Kermit Clifford Carter

In 1933, she graduated from Morningside Hospital School of Nursing with a degree of Registered Nurse. Immediately after graduation from nurse training, she and Kermit Clifford Carter were married on June 18.

Polly’s father was very vocal about his displeasure regarding her desire to become a nurse and told her that he would disown her if she entered nurse’s training. Polly and her father did not speak for almost three years. Her mother would travel to Tulsa once a month to see her daughter. Gradually, her father accepted her choice for a career in nursing and later appreciated her success in that field.

Polly was made surgical supervisor upon passing her State Board and remained in that capacity until 1947.

In 1948-49, Polly helped Dr. James F. Curry design and start the Curry Clinic at 308 South Main Street. She was the director of nursing and services and surgical supervisor until 1960. From 1951 until 1953, she was employed as a public health nurse for Creek County.

Polly was the first nurse to be hired by the Sapulpa Public School System in 1954 and remained in that capacity until 1957.

She was elected to the board of directors of the Oklahoma State Nursing Home Association in 1958 and served until 1970.

Her life-long aim was to upgrade nursing care to those residing in the nursing homes in Oklahoma. A good nursing home, she believed, would offer activities and dignity to the resident’s daily life.

Carter was often quoted in the Tulsa World, Tulsa Tribune and Sapulpa Herald regarding nursing home situations, rules and regulations.
A serious event mixed with some humor one evening in Carter’s life.

On the night that the Lorraine Hotel burned, Polly was in a Sapulpa Little Theatre production, “Arsenic and Old Lace.” She had the role of “Abby” and was dressed for the part; high top button shoes, old fashioned dress, very grey hair and deep wrinkles drawn in by eye-brow pencil. The production was being presented at the Sapulpa Public Library.

As the fire increased, the production stopped and some of the play cast members went to offer their services. Polly, in full costume, started giving directions and rendering first-aid services to those in need.

Firemen, volunteers and by-standers were amazed at the spunky little old lady that was taking charge and organizing help for the injured.

Polly and Kermit Carter opened Ranch Terrace Nursing Home at 1310 East Cleveland in 1963. Polly continued in the administrator’s role until she retired in 1972. Daughter Kay Lawson joined Ranch Terrace Nursing Home in 1968 as assistant administrator, and in 1972, became administrator.

Today her son, Randy Isbell shares the duties at the 85-bed facility still going strong—can we say, “Chieftain Strong?”


Note: In 1998 Don Diehl and Virginia Wolfe began publishing Wolfe’s compilation of “Remembrances and Little Known Facts of Our Community of Sapulpa.” Most of this story comes from volume 1, and the chapter about Ranch Terrace Nursing Home founders Kermit and Pauline “Polly” Carter. Polly Page was the Sapulpa High School senior who in 1928 submitted the name “Chieftains” in a contest to name the school’s mascot. This story is republished with permission from Sapulpa News and Views Facebook Page.