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Dr. Bertlyn Bosley

Dr. Bertlyn Bosley was a superstar of nutrition. She was the first chief of the nutrition section with the North Carolina State Board of Health, and she created more national programs than one can count. She was an original and a leader in her field, working with needy groups and individuals from the Caribbean to Alaska. There was never an area too distant or too tough - it was always the need that came first.

Born March 11, 1908 in West Virginia, Miss Bosley was brought to Marietta by her parents when she was 6 months old. Her father became president of the Marietta Torpedo Co., which manufactured nitro-glycerine explosives as part of the supplies for the many oil developments in the area. (The main office was on Front Street, and the plant was two miles above town.) Miss Bosley attended school in the city and graduated from Marietta High School. She graduated from Western College for Women in Oxford, Ohio where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history. She attended Simmons College next, taking courses in pre-med and nutrition. Then she interned at Johns Hopkins in dietetics.

Bertlyn's first job was in New York City with the French Hospital, where nothing but French was spoken. She had learned Parisian French in high school and college, which was spoken by the sisters of the hospital. However, those who came to the hospital were mostly from the provinces.

Two years later, she was at Hopkins Teachers College, Columbia University, earning a masters degree. Degree in hand, she became member of the Speyer School in New York City, which dealt with gifted children. It was her job to teach nutritional education to the students.

Bertlyn received her doctorate in nutrition from Columbia in December of 1943 and in January of 1944 she went to North Carolina to work on the State Board of Health. She was their first nutritionist and they weren't sure what to do with her. The Rockefeller Foundation had funded the program for the state, and they had wanted to hire a man. They couldn't find on in this field at this time and Bertlyn was chosen because of her doctorate degree. She thus became the first nutritional director in this section.

Bertlyn taught nutrition in a North Carolina Woman's college for a year, but returned to work in public health because she liked it better. The North Carolina mountains were filled with people of English descent. A pale, young woman holding a baby occupied one cabin. Her husband, who was in his 70s, was out hunting herbs to sell. Their diet consisted only of potatoes. Bertlyn was finally able to get the woman to go for a check-up at the Public Health facility and eventually, worked nutritional items into their diet.

When Bertlyn began working in public health, there was nothing available on nutrition. She set up a curriculum for courses on the subject in a number of universities -- The University of Michigan, Chapel Hill, and the University of California among them. She was able to get certain professors from these schools involved in the program.

In 1951, a committee of three organized the first State and Territorial Public Health Nutritional Division. Bertlyn was the first president of the group, which was an offshoot of the State Territorial Health Office.

By 1952, the division was all set up. She became the first chief of the nutrition section with the North Carolina State Board of Health, and ended up with 14 nutritionists in the section.

In 1956, she was back with the U.S. Public Health Service where she remained until 1964. She worked with the Department of the Interior in the Division of Indian Health. There were 54 hospitals where she stressed both preventative and curative methods. She was Chief of Nutrition in the dietetics branch where she set up a program in public health nutrition in area offices. The legislature had approved the program but had provided no funds. She worked in the field, where she would stay for several weeks at a time.

Bertlyn worked on Navajo reservations in Arizona, with the Dakotas, and with Eskimos in Alaska. In Barrows, Alaska, she heard a Russian woman speaking on the radio in English, telling of the wonderful health programs they had in her area. Bertlyn's approach was to improve on feed already being eaten by the people. The Indians made frybread with water and flour. They fried it in mutton fat. By encouraging certain leaders, she was able to get them to use nonfat dry milk in the bread. Then it was taken to the tribe. The attempt was so successful there were even contests to see who could make the best frybread with nonfat milk at various local fairs.

In 1964, the Pan American Health Organization set up a regional office in Washington. D.C. This organization covered both the North and South American hemispheres and the Caribbean. Bertlyn went to work here and in Central and South America, setting up nutritional programs. Since she was the first in the field, there was no one to say, "We used to do it this way."

Because of a lack of education in this field, Bertlyn set up programs in the universities of various countries to tail nutritional dieticians and present degrees in the field. All but one of these programs were in medical schools. The curriculum developed proved good enough for the graduates to come to the United States for Masters Degrees. Bertlyn also established zone offices to help the people. She said the problems in some of these countries are tremendous. They need sanitation and health care of all kinds and enough money to set up the various programs. Food sent frequently doesn't get to the proper source -- it may be diverted to the heads of governments who sell it for personal gain. Through it all, Bertlyn felt that she had learned a tremendous amount.

In 1973, Bertlyn retired and became a consultant to the University of Public Health in Puerto Rico. In 1979, she returned to Marietta and retired completely.

In Marietta, Bertlyn lived at 523 Fourth Street.

She died January 22, 1989, not realizing her brother's dream to live in The Castle.