Family and friends — including the tight Georgia Highlands’ nursing community — are mourning the passing Wednesday of Belen Dizon Nora, 84, who served as the director of nursing at then-Floyd Junior College and Floyd College.
In 1971, she was contracted to start a nursing program at the college. After 28 years of building the program, she retired in 1999 as director of the Nursing Education Department. Friends and colleagues remember Mrs. Nora for her passion for nursing, her students and the community.
Said Dr. Don Green, president of Georgia Highlands:
“I was deeply saddened to learn of Ms. Belen Nora’s passing and on behalf of the GHC family would like to express my heartfelt condolences. Belen was the Director of Nursing for many years at Floyd Junior College and Floyd College. She was instrumental in the development of the nursing program, having been contracted in 1971 to design and launch the program that is still a hallmark of Georgia Highlands College. She retired in 1999 as Chair of the Health Sciences Division. She played a crucial role in developing several generations of great nurses for our community and blessed many lives, both those of students and the multitude of patients to whom those students attended. Her contribution to the college will not be forgotten.”
Becca Maddox, the current director of GHC’s nursing program, shared the following thoughts:
“Words alone cannot express the sadness that swept across me when I heard that Belen had passed. She was a wonderful, smart, energetic, powerful and strong woman. I admired her greatly.
“The city, the county, and Georgia Highlands College were so fortunate when Belen and her husband, Dr. Felix Nora, moved to Rome. At the time that Dr. Nora came to Rome to look at the possibility of establishing his medical practice here, Floyd Junior College was looking for a director to start a nursing program.
“Dr. Jim Cook wrote about that time period in his book “We Fly By Night,” A History of Floyd College. According to Dr. Cook, when Dr. Nora was interviewing at then Floyd Hospital, it was discovered that Mrs. Nora was an assistant director of the nursing program at Memorial Hospital in Worcester, Mass. The hospital administrator knew that Floyd Junior College was seeking a director and notified Dr. David McCorkle, president of the college. Mrs. Nora was interviewed and hired. That was in 1971. That was the beginning of the excellent, well-respected, nursing program that exists at Georgia Highlands today.
“Because of Mrs. Nora’s vision, leadership and guidance, well over 1,400 women and men have become registered nurses, many of whom stayed in the Northwest Georgia area to practice. Until she retired, there is not a graduate who does not remember the short little lady who had a mighty presence. Many were fortunate to learn about maternity nursing from her. Others benefited from her knowledge of nursing curricula and leadership. All benefited from knowing her.
“Mrs. Nora hired me from practice in 1991 and taught me how to be a nurse educator. For that, I will forever be grateful. Even after she retired, she would periodically stop by to check on things, to meet the current students, to speak to faculty and to make sure all was still going well. As I took over in 2010 as only the third director of the associate degree nursing program, I knew she was only a phone call away if I ever needed anything.
“I so enjoyed the days when she would show up in my office. Her love of nursing, the nursing program, the students, the faculty and the college never wavered. There will never be another woman like Belen Nora. She will be greatly missed.”
Mrs. Nora was born Oct. 21, 1934, in Aringay, La Union, Philippines, to Patrocinio Gaerlan Dizon and Juan Dizon. She is survived by daughters, Cindy Hart and her husband Fred, and Betsy Ward and her husband Jake; son Nollin Nora; grandchildren Frederick Hart and Payton Ward; sister Elisa Dalton; brother Mario Dizon; as well as extended family and friends. Mrs. Nora was preceded in death by her parents, husband Feliciano “F.C” Nora Jr., son Raymond D. Nora, grandson Bryce Ward, and brothers Raymon and Angel Dizon.
Visitation for Mrs. Nora is set for Monday, May 13, at Daniel’s Funeral Home from noon to 2 p.m. with a Rosary led by Evelyn Ware. A Funeral Mass celebrated by Fr. Valery Akoh, assisted by Deacon Stuart Neslin, will take place on Wednesday, May 15, at 9 a.m. at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. A reception will then follow in the Parish Hall. A graveside service and burial in the Parish Memorial Garden will be held at a later date.