Tribute to Renee Besecker

I was lucky enough to have Renee as Executive Director of OASN when I was president. Renee was a steadfast leader for OASN, and she never backed away from a challenge.

I remember her calling me over the Winter Holiday to break the news that the current Governor had a plan for schools and school nurses that became the beginning of a huge effort from our organization to make sure the legislature and the Governor knew how important school nurses were and what we did. Without her being there at every step, we might have been swept away by a group who had no idea what we did.

Renee was always “off to the printer”, because as executive director, she didn’t even have a printer. But we needed folders to give to legislators, we needed folders to give to other nursing groups. She made sure we had someone on the podium “speaking” on Nurse Day at the state house every year. She made sure she was present for every opportunity to speak to school nurses about joining the professional organization, more so than had ever been done before. She worked to get us a professional display that we still use parts of today. Renee was passionate about school nursing in Ohio, and so much of what she did really mattered and allowed this organization to survive and be where it is today.

She got us legislative advisors when we were really learning how to get ourselves involved in legislation and government.  She helped me fire those advisors and get others when we thought we were being led against our core values. We bounced a lot of ideas off of each other and it was always about “what is best for school nursing across the state?” We came very close in 2009 to losing any ground we had gained, and she was at nearly every legislative meeting and argument we had to make for ourselves.  I know not everybody in the organization today knew her, but I want everyone to know that we might not have an organization without the work she did. She was part of the group to set up our original education and research endowment fund.

She came across as very quiet until I got to know her, and then I got to experience her wry sense of humor.  Professionally, she did not talk unless she had something to say, but when she spoke about school nurses, you better listen, because it was important.

I saw her years after she had retired and she shared with me that she was very proud of the work we did, and she should have been. OASN owes a debt of gratitude to Renee for her foresight, leadership, and stamina. We would not be where we are without her. I am proud to have worked with her and to have called her friend.

Deborah L. Strouse, MEd, MSN, CNP, NCSN, FNP-C

Education and Research Endowment Advisory Chairman

Ohio Association of School Nurses (OASN)

Past President OASN 2008-2010

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