Since I started writing articles for the Chimney Rock Chronicle (February, 2020, was my first article about the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Shenandoah County), I have written three articles about Green Valley Clinic at Bergton, Virginia. The first, published in July, 2021, was “The Former Green Valley Clinic Building is Renovated, but the Clinic is Not Forgotten” and reported about the purchase of the building by Highland Retreat.
The next article was published in September, 2021, and called “Green Valley Clinic in Bergton, VA: The Hertzler Years 1949-1969.” The third article, “Green Valley Clinic in Bergton, VA: The Gehman Years” was published in October, 2021. All three articles got a lot of positive feedback since so many folks in Northwestern Rockingham County VA and Eastern Hardy County WV and beyond went to doctors at the Green Valley Clinic.
Lona Moyer Wilkins
And here I go again with another article about Green Valley Clinic: this time the article features a nurse, Lona Moyer Wilkins, whom Dr. Hertzler hired in the early years of the clinic; in 1948, right after she finished the Nurse Cadet program at the University of Virginia: Lona continued to work with Dr. Gehman at the clinic after Dr. Hertzler retired.
Lona Velma Moyer was born on July 21, 1921. She was the daughter of Walter and Pearl Moyer of Mathias, WV. As previously mentioned, she entered the nursing cadet program at UVA right after high school. The program was established to provide nurses to the troops fighting in World War II, but by the time Lona graduated from the program, the war was over. Lona married Orlando Wilkins right after her graduation from UVA.
Dr. Hertzler hired Lona the year the clinic started (1948). Her daughter Alice recalls Lona talking about her adventures in the nurse cadet program. Her son Bruce remembers Lona working at the clinic when he was growing up, occasionally taking some time off to care for various family members. Lona also took some time off when Bruce and Alice were born, too. Like many, Lona was an excellent care giver to both patients and family.
Eleanor Stultz Heishman, who worked at Green Valley Clinic for over 40 years, recalls that when she was hired by Dr. Hertzler in 1969, Lona was the head nurse. Eleanor remembers that Lona assisted Dr. Hertzler in those early years with delivery of babies and removal of tonsils when the clinic was more like a hospital. Lona continued working at the clinic when Dr. Gehman took over in 1970.
One of the interesting things that folks remember is that Dr. Gehman and Lona traveled to Moorefield, WV monthly where they volunteered for a free health clinic. Dr. Gehman’s daughter Kathy Gehman Alderfer recalls that her family would pick up Lona at her house not far from the Green Valley Clinic, and Kathy and her brother Billy Gehman would ride in the back seat with Lona while Dr. Gehman drove them all to Moorefield. Dr. Gehman’s wife Becky and the children would shop while Dr. Gehman and Lona worked!
Lona retired from Green Valley Clinic in 1996 after a long career in service to others. She died in 2007, but is not forgotten by her co-workers and former patients. I remember Lona fondly. How I wish I had known that she was in the nursing cadet program and asked her more about it!
Update on Other Local Legends
I have a sad follow up to the three previous articles on Green Valley Clinic. Dr. Linford K. Gehman died on August 9, 2023. He was born on April 30, 1933. The cover of the bulletin for his celebration of life service on August 14, 2023, stated “Well done, good and faithful servant” which sums up the life of a faithful country doctor who volunteered at several free clinics in Virginia and West Virginia as well as served as the doctor for the community from 1970 through 2015. Before working at the Green Valley Clinic, Dr. Gehman served as a medical doctor in Vietnam through the Mennonite Central Committee, and was a doctor on a medical relief team in Nigeria during the 1969-70 Civil War there.
In 2010, I coordinated an application nominating Dr. Gehman as the Country Doctor of the Year. Although he did not receive that title, in my mind as well as in the hearts and minds of his family, friends, co-workers, and former patients at Green Valley Clinic, Dr. Linford Gehman will always be remembered as The Country Doctor of the Centuries. Rest in peace, Lona and Linford! Thank you both for your lives of service to others.