Former Canyon Lake Mayor Mary Craton was recently honored to address the 50th anniversary celebration of the American Association of Neuroscience Nurses. More than 1,000 neuro nurses attended the annual meeting held at the Marriot Marquis Hotel in San Diego, California.
The American Association of Neuroscience Nurses was founded in 1968. It has since grown to more than 5,000 members. Mary attended her first meeting in 1969 and became the organization’s fourth president. She was active for many years and frequently lectured on neuro, management and professionalism at the annual meetings.
Mary’s topic for this meeting covered the organization’s first 20 years. She called it Trials, Tribulation, Hard Work, Success and Fun. They had no staff, no office and no money. Although, several neurosurgeons did give money for special items, such as starting the Journal of Neuroscience Nursing and designing the pin.
She entertained the attendees by telling many stories about how the early members devoted their lives, money and time to get the organization off the ground. “We planned our lives around the association,” said Mary. As an example, Mary told the story about planning her wedding around an upcoming board meeting in Miami — to the point that she got married on Friday the 13th and spent her wedding night on an airplane.
Margaret Fiore of Alexandria, Virginia, the 3rd President of the American Association of Neuroscience Nurses, accompanied Mary to the convention. “Needless to say, we were the oldest nurses there. But age didn’t stop Margaret from dancing all night during the huge celebration on the USS Midway,” said Mary. “How wonderful to have a loving, good friend for 49 years.”
Mary said she had a wonderful time being surrounded by younger nurses, many who were not even born when the association was founded. “We had our picture taken so many times, I told Margaret that we should be charging,” Mary joked. Listening to these nurses and what the association means to them was true affirmation that it was worth the time and effort to nurture the American Association of Neuroscience Nurses in the early years. To this day, Mary is still in contact with many of the past presidents and other members.
Mary has always served others and has dedicated her life to community service. She is a registered nurse with a master’s degree and advanced certification in nursing administration, she was a nurse executive at the LA County/USC Medical Center for many years, directing educational activities for 3,000 employees.
When she moved to Canyon Lake in 1996, she immediately got involved in the golfing community, soon becoming president of the Women’s Golf Club. She also joined the Woman’s Club, Home Owners Club, Lioness Club, Fine Arts Guild and Travel Club, serving on some of their boards.
Mary served on the Canyon Lake City Council from 2002 to 2014. She served longer than any other council member in Canyon Lake’s history as an incorporated city. She served as mayor in 2007, 2009 and 2013.
She has sat on Santa’s knee at tree-lighting ceremonies, tended “injuries” in the Canyon Lake Emergency Preparedness Committee drills, tended real injuries while working first aid duties for the Car Show and other community events, ridden as a dignitary in Fiesta Day Parades and was a member of a Red Hat Society group that served Meals on Wheels for several years to shut-ins in Canyon Lake.
She also has served as director of the Canyon Lake Emergency Preparedness Committee (CLEPC) Field Treatment Center and participated in many meetings and community-wide drills to prepare the community for disaster.
In a 2014 interview, The Friday Flyer asked Mary how she’d like to be remember. “I want to be remembered as someone who truly loves Canyon Lake, did my very best, had no personal agendas, always acted in the interest of the city, and helped many residents with individual problems. I want to be remembered as ‘one of the good guys.’”
Mary’s advice to others is to get involved, help others and have fun.