What’s on Wilene Lowther’s to-do list now that she’s retired?

“To golf and goof off,” she said.

Lowther, 85, worked as a medical technologist in the same hospital for 65 years, Holy Cross Hospital in Salt Lake City. She already attempted to retire in 2002, but that retirement didn’t take. Lowther told the Deseret News that this time, retirement would stick.

“My whole thing (back in 2002) was, when we retire, we’re going to sell the house and just travel in the motorhome. So we went on this little trip for like 2½ weeks,” she said. “We went down through Arizona, watched baseball, played golf, did all these fun things, and I said, ‘I’m ready to go home now.’ And my husband said, ‘What happened to your idea of retiring and traveling in the motor home?’ I said, ‘There’s not a motorhome big enough, so I’m going home.’ So I’ve just kept working.”

She credited the people she worked with for motivating her to return to work.

“I’ve enjoyed the work because I like what I do, and I’ve worked with so many great people,” Lowther said.

At her retirement party on Monday, the entire front lobby of the Holy Cross Hospital, where she’s worked for the last six-plus decades, was filled with friends and co-workers she’s connected with over the years. One person who wasn’t there to help her celebrate was Lowther’s late husband, who died in 2014.

“She has a legacy here,” her co-worker Kara Martin told the Deseret News. “She’s a great mentor to anyone coming into the field because she can just share a plethora of knowledge and is also just a nice person and an active person, and someone to look to when it comes to ‘how do I want to work’ or ‘how do I just want to live my life as a human being and an individual?’”

“I look at Wil, and I think, oh, OK, at 85, I can still work. I can do fun things,” Martin added. “She utilizes the world the same way a lot of young people do. I watch her looking and checking on her dog with her nanny cam. That’s something I don’t even know how to do.”

But Lowther knows just as much as anyone — if not more — that technology hasn’t always been so advanced that it allows comforts like checking on your fur babies while at work. One of the biggest changes in her job through the years is how much easier technology has made it. She said, “Now, you throw samples on the machine, and it automatically goes wherever it needs to go.”

Lowther, who will turn 86 next month, recalled the first heart surgery at the hospital back in the 1970s versus now. “When we did a heart (surgery), it took 21 units of blood, and now they order two units, and they may use it or they may not. ... Nothing was automated.”

How it all started in the medical field

Her career began in 1956 when she enrolled at College of Saint Mary-of-the-Wasatch, a Catholic school in Salt Lake City. Even though it wasn’t the traditional route, Lowther knew what she wanted, and nothing was going to stop her.

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“I had a friend from Helper, and she was in the med tech program. And that sounded good, so I decided to go,” Lowther said. “And here’s the kicker. This little Mormon girl went to a Catholic school, and I got the lecture from everyone, ‘How come you’re going there, and you’re not going to BYU?’”

“And when I was in college, they said they wanted me to join in the Schola, which is where they sing Mass. The definition (of the group) was, young Catholic women who appreciate the Mass. And I said, ‘Sister, I’m not a Catholic.’ She just replied saying, ‘Yeah, that’s OK. We want you anyway.’ So I went with them on Sundays and sang.”

In the last year of her internship, she started at Holy Cross Hospital in Salt Lake with no intention of staying long term. “I was gonna stay for a year because it looked good on a resume, but then I forgot to leave,” she joked.

“I’ve had a lot of good memories, a lot of good memories here.”

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