Helen Preston Glass

October 24, 1917February 14, 2015

Dr. Helen Preston Glass O.C., O.M., Ed.D., L.L.D. (Hon)., D.Sc. (Hon) October 24, 1917 – February 14, 2015

After a lifetime of teaching others how to care, Helen Preston Glass is now released wholly into God’s care.

Helen Glass was the beloved mother of Susan Glass and the proud mother-in-law of Arni Thorsteinson. She is survived by her brother Donald (Shelagh) Preston, her much-loved nieces and nephews Doug Preston, Bob Preston, Eileen Preston, Barbara Jardine, Margaret Pomeroy, Rick Preston, Linda Gail Baker, Mary Joan Preston, and their families, children and grandchildren. She was predeceased by her parents Harold and Mildred (Landon) Preston, her brother Bill Preston, her sister Dorothy Carson and four nephews, John Carson, David Carson, Lanny Preston and Neil Preston.

Born in Regina and growing up there and in Saskatoon, Helen developed a determined nature through her participation in competitive athletics, particularly track and field, swimming and diving, followed later by golf. It was a quality that would serve her well throughout a highly accomplished life.

Following high school and a year of nutrition studies at the University of Saskatchewan she chose instead to embark on a career in caring when in 1936 she headed to Montreal where she earned her Registered Nurse (RN) designation from the Royal Victoria Hospital.

She returned to Prince Albert, SK where she married, practiced nursing and raised her daughter Susan. When that phase of her life came to an end she and her daughter moved to Winnipeg to be near family. As a single mother Helen recognized the need to upgrade her education – thereby setting her on a lifetime path to the pinnacle of nursing education.

She began with a Certificate in Teaching and Supervision from the University of Manitoba and taught at the nursing school of Winnipeg’s Victoria Hospital. In the late 1950’s mother and daughter headed to New York City where Helen attended Columbia University, graduating with a B Sc (Nursing) and a MA.

Returning to Manitoba she served as Educational Secretary for the Manitoba Association of Registered Nurses and then in 1962 began as an instructor at the University of Manitoba School of Nursing. Ten years after her first foray to New York City she returned to Columbia University to garner two more degrees – a Masters and a Doctorate in Education.

Following the completion of her education she again returned to the U of M to become a full professor and the Director of the School of Nursing from 1972 to 1979. It was a particularly pivotal time in the evolution of defining a new vision for the nursing profession. Helen was at its forefront providing leadership and proactively influencing the policy enshrined in the Canada Health Act. In the early 1980’s she established the graduate program for the Nursing Faculty and then was instrumental in the establishment of the Manitoba Nursing Research Institute (now the Manitoba Centre for Nursing and Health Research). She served as President of the Manitoba Association of Registered Nurses, President of the Canadian Nurses Association, and First Vice-President of the International Council of Nurses. She brought an international perspective to her profession through her consultation with the World Health Organization and the Danish Nurses Organization.

Helen was highly revered, respected and admired by her colleagues and students alike. She inspired everyone to strive for higher levels of professionalism and achievement. She set the bar very high and as such she served as an exemplary role model and mentor for many. Her students meant everything to her and she genuinely reveled in each of their accomplishments.

Highly decorated and recognized, she was made an Officer of the Order of Canada (1988) and received the Order of Manitoba (2008) and the Queen’s Silver, Gold and Diamond Jubilee Medals. She was named Professor Emerita in 1989 following her retirement from the U of M. She held honorary doctorates from McGill University (1995), Université de Montreal (1993), St Francis Xavier University (1991), The University of Western Ontario (1986) and Memorial University of Newfoundland (1983). Among her many other honours were the Peter D. Curry Chancellor’s Award from the U of M (1993), the Jeanne Mance Award from the Canadian Nurses Association (1992), The Mary Tolle Wright Leadership Founders’ Award from the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society in Nursing (1989), the Louise McManus Medal for distinguished and meritorious service from Columbia University Nursing Education Alumni (1984), and the YWCA Woman of the Year Award for Education (1979). She was thrilled in 1999 when the new building on the U of M campus was named in her honour as the Helen Glass Centre for Nursing. And finally, as recently as 2013 she was presented with the Centennial Award from the College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba, effectively making her the “nurse of the century.”

Her retirement brought happy years at her summer haven on Lake of the Woods and warm winters in Naples, Florida, all shared with her beloved poodle Gigi.

A unique woman of beauty, style and grace with a gentle but determined nature, she left an indelible imprint upon all those whose lives she touched, but none more so than that of her daughter.

Susan and Arni offer heartfelt appreciation to her special caregivers Jenalyn Uygen Gallego and Rodney Gallego and to all those at Bethania Personal Care Home at Pembina Place for their care during the last 5 years of her life.

A service to honour her life was held on Wednesday, February 18, 2015 at 11:00 am at Thomson “In the Park” Funeral Home, 1291 McGillivray Blvd, Winnipeg, with a reception that followed.


  • Memorial Service Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Helen Preston Glass

have a memory or condolence to add?