Did You Know…
Black History of Sapulpa – A Nurse Changing Lives
Rachel Whitney, Curator, Sapulpa Historical Museum
In 1941, “Nurse Porter” came to Sapulpa. Only 30 years old at the time she first arrived, Porter was a nurse filled with compassion for all persons whom she served, and she commanded the respect of all who came in contact with her.
“Luella Porter received her training at General Hospital No. 2 in Kansas City, MO, and a medical college at Richmond, VA.” She was from Wewoka originally but soon became an influence to the town of Sapulpa.
Nurse Luella Bruner Porter was born in Wewoka in 1911. James Porter was born in Jackson, Mississippi in 1894. They married in 1943 and had two girls. They had been members of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church. They left their mark in Wewoka and Sapulpa.
Nurse Porter often met and held midwives meetings for the community. She cared and aided many in her classes. She began many of these classes as early as 1947. She also aided the schools with their smallpox vaccinations and began these regulations that year.
Nurse Porter also participated and was active in many Nursing and Black organizations. She became a member of the Nurses Committee for Better Care of the Aged (now Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders). She also became a member with Sapulpa’s Negro Chamber of Commerce.
The following year, in August 1948, Sapulpa hired its first full time health officer: Dr. J.M. Bayless. Dr. Bayless was to direct City and County programs. “Dr. Bayless has been employed on a full-time basis. In addition to his duties in Sapulpa, he will direct the county program at the Bristow and Drumright offices.” Dr. Bayless had four staff members included with his county position. “John M. Johnston, junior sanitary engineer; and three nurses: Mrs. Cecil Holly at the Bristow office; Miss Irma Lamberti at the Drumright office; and Mrs. Luella Porter in the Sapulpa office.”
They dedicated their lives to the benefit of others. Nurse Porter was “instrumental in obtaining State regulations for Nursing Homes. She was a member of the State Nursing Home Association Board of Directors, from 1956, and held many county and state offices.”
The Porters opened their first nursing home in Sapulpa at 528 East Hobson on January 1, 1955. It would later become a boarding home. “Where kindness and sympathy work together to bring health, happiness, and peace of mind.”
They also opened another home at 300 South Seminole St in Wewoka nearly a decade later in April 1963. They opened this institution with Nurse Porter’s mother, Mrs. Ben Bruner, as co-administrators. Three years before the Porters’ deaths, their third nursing home was opened in Sapulpa under their care. At 102 East Line, “Porter Nursing Home No. 3” opened on November 1, 1965. Their dedicated phrase for their institution was “service before self.”
On November 1, 1968, James Porter passed away as a patient at Veterans Hospital in Oklahoma City. Exactly one month later, December 1, 1968, Nurse Luella Porter passed away at St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa. “They left two daughters, Helen Porter Logan and Lillian G. Porter. With the help and close supervision of Mrs. Ben Bruner and Mr. John Bruner, mother and brother of Luella Porter, R.N., the two girls successfully carried on the business of the Nursing Homes.”
Less than two weeks after Nurse Porter’s death, a contribution was made to establish a scholarship for nurses in honor of Mrs. Porter. “The Oklahoma State Nurses Association, district 27, has established a scholarship fund…named the Luella Porter Scholarship fund for professional nurses.”
Just before her death, that summer of 1968, Governor Dewey Bartlett presented a plaque to Nurse Porter. She was given this honor for “her outstanding contribution to the Oklahoma Nursing Home Association, and had been appointed by the Governor to serve on the State Nursing Home Board.”
The information found on this page has been researched through Sapulpa (and area) newspapers, Sapulpa Historical Society archives, books, and photographs, Sapulpa yearbooks, city directories, and other local authors. Any other sources will be labeled and named as the research continues. Any mistakes will be noted and adjusted as needed.