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More MS news articles for February 2004

Former MCC nursing professor had lifelong love for children

Johnella Diggs, 77

Saturday, February 21, 2004
Joseph Montes
The Flint Journal

Coming from a family of teachers, Johnella Diggs didn't choose the same path but ended up at the same destination.

Diggs, 77, who died Tuesday after battling multiple sclerosis, entered nursing school when she was 16 and retired as a nursing professor at Mott Community College in 1986.

"Her mind was made up early on what she wanted to be," Diggs' husband, Roy, said. "She always wanted to be a nurse."

Born in Jackson, Tenn., in 1926, Diggs came to Flint in 1959 and began work at Hurley Medical Center's Pediatrics Clinic. She earned a master's degree in nursing at the University of Detroit Mercy.

"There were very few nurses who were getting degrees at the time she did," Roy Diggs said.

Most of Diggs' career was spent in pediatrics. She retired after 17 years as a professor when her disease began interfering with her job.

Roy Diggs said his wife liked teaching, but loved children.

"Children always were her passion," he said. "Even when she was desperately ill, when relatives would bring a baby around it would always make her smile."

Helping others was something Diggs also did outside the hospital. She was a big sister at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Flint. A connection with one teenage girl grew to a friendship lasting well into the girl's adult life.

"They met often and went on shopping trips where you go look, but don't buy," Roy Diggs said laughing.

Diggs was also in a bridge club, active in the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, a member of St. Michael's Roman Catholic Church for more than 10 years, a pledge in the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and took a trip to Senegal, Africa, to explore the history of the slave trade.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. today at St. Michael's, 609 E. Fifth Ave. in Flint.

Diggs also leaves a sister, Josephine Williams, three nieces and a nephew.

Copyright © 2004, Flint Journal