A nurse’s commitment to others inspires legacy for future generations

Lillian Mae Revenig McCoy
Lillian Mae Revenig McCoy, a registered nurse who served with the Army Air Corps during World War II, inspired countless people to pursue a career in nursing.

Lillian Mae Revenig McCoy lost her mom at age 12, lived in an orphanage until she was 16 and became a widow when her first husband died after only three weeks of marriage. Yet she overcame these obstacles and dedicated 64 years to others, serving as a registered nurse in California. Her legacy now offers future nursing students opportunity at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis.

“My mom had such a commitment to people over the course of her career and lifetime,” explained Kathy Samsom, McCoy’s daughter and a nurse practitioner. “Her optimism, hard work ethic and positive role modeling inspired many to push past difficulties. It also influenced my and my sister’s professional path.”

“Our mother did not just inspire us to become nurses. Over the past 40 years, many people have told me they chose nursing because of Mom,” added Virginia Hass, a nurse practitioner and School of Nursing assistant clinical professor. “Her professional knowledge and life wisdom were contagious.”

Hass and Samsom attended college and nursing school at Sacramento City College in the late 1970s, when the only expense was a $5 registration fee and books.

“We had the extreme good fortune of growing up during the golden age of California education. I even received a scholarship to pay for my books,” Hass recalled. “Ironically, 10 years later as a nurse, I cared for the man who funded that scholarship!”

These twin sisters hope to continue the chain of generosity for future nursing students through the Lillian Mae Revenig McCoy, R.N., Memorial Scholarship, an endowed scholarship to celebrate the legacy of a woman, they say, is an unsung hero.

Lillian Mae Revenig McCoy
Assistant Clinical Professor Virginia Hass, left, and her twin sister, Kathy Samsom, right, established a nursing scholarship to celebrate the legacy of their mother, Lillian Mae Revenig McCoy.

“Both our parents taught us to tithe at church, give to charity and help the community with your time and money,” Samsom said. “Because she dedicated her life to nursing, we hope to enable others to do so as well.”

McCoy’s nursing career began in surgery with the Army Air Corps at the Las Vegas Army Airfield in Las Vegas, Nevada, moved to obstetrics in Los Angeles and then came to Davis, were she served as administrative director of Covell Gardens Senior Community. A registered nurse for 64 years, McCoy also worked in long-term care, often caring for seniors younger than herself. At the time of her retirement at age 85, she was the oldest practicing registered nurse in California. Samsom and Hass envision the scholarship assisting students who pursue family nurse practitioner or nursing degrees and are veterans or interested in caring for older adults.

“Mom inspired others to reach their full potential, which prompted me to become an educator. The impact one can have on students and mentees is immeasurable,” Hass said. “We know our philanthropy has the ability to influence future generations beyond the immediate impact of this gift.”