McLoughlin received letters from all over the nation. Some told him he was going to go to hell for what he had done, others begged him to reconsider his choices and others were written to congratulate him on his marriage. 

Despite the backlash, he continued working with the community and as superintendent of the hospital, hosting many charity events and fundraising to make sure its doors stayed open. In 1949, McLoughlin renamed the hospital to the Phoenix Memorial Hospital to honor those lost in World War II and that name remained until the hospital closed in 2002.

The legacy of the hospital and school was largely collected and preserved by Bennett. McLoughlin met Bennett in 1948 when she began working as a volunteer in the hospital. She was amazed by his mission to help everyone, and she worked at the hospital until her retirement in 1990. 

She worked with him to keep the hospital open for the community and became one of his most trusted colleagues until his death in 1970. 

“She was devoted to that hospital as much as Emmett was,” said Lambesis. “They were very close friends. When he died, the board of trustees made her the interim administrator of the hospital until they could hire someone else because she knew them so well.”

After McLoughlin passed, Bennett found and stored files about the history of the hospital, the nursing school and Emmett to keep them from being thrown out. 

“It wasn’t about Emmett, but mostly it was about capturing the history of this place,” said Lambesis. “How it got started, how it served people, why it was needed.”

In 1989, Bennett presented the materials she had about the Phoenix Memorial Hospital, which included the gift of an original iron lung used at the hospital to treat polio patients, to ASU, where they were accepted into the university archives.

Then, in 2012, on behalf of Bennett, Lambesis donated the artifacts and materials regarding the nursing school to the Arizona Nurses Association for their historical archives. The only documents Bennett had left revolving around the hospital were those pertaining to McLoughlin. She knew the documents held historical value, but she didn’t want to donate them anywhere for fear they wouldn’t be handled correctly.

“She really wanted to be careful about Emmett’s papers because he was somewhat controversial in the end, particularly from the religious point of view,” said Lambesis. “She wanted to make sure that his memory would have been honored or his thinking would have been honored. His doing would have been honored and they wouldn’t somehow disappear in these papers. They wouldn’t be abused or they wouldn’t get into the hands of someone who didn’t care.”

The documents, which are being referred to as “McLoughlin's Papers,” are set to be housed in the ASU Library archives later this year. 

“Phoenix has always been a place of many cultures and faiths, and there is a great deal of both conflict and collaboration in its history,” said O’Donnell. “McLoughlin's papers, along with other holdings of ASU Library, help us to see both, as well as giving us a sense of a man who made difficult and unexpected choices throughout his life, in pursuit of what he understood to be the good of others.”

Rachel Bunning

Communications program coordinator, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies