Dr. Polly Haigler, Montreat College trustee and dear friend of the college, died on October 23, after a brief and courageous battle with cancer. She and her husband, Boyce, were married for 58 years. Dr. Haigler served on the college’s board from 2012-16.
“We will miss Polly very deeply,” said Montreat College Board of Trustees Chair William Haynes. “We celebrated Polly’s life, ministry, and trusteeship with the college at our October board meeting. Our prayers continue to be with her husband, Boyce, and the family during these days.”
“Polly was a devoted leader and friend of the college,” said Montreat College President Paul J. Maurer. “And she lived a life of service—in her medical, missionary, community, and church work—that extended far beyond the Montreat College community. She will be missed by many, many people.”
Polly Haigler was born Polly Cameron in Harnett County, N.C., on August 24, 1937. She graduated valedictorian from Peace Preparatory High School in Raleigh, N.C., and attended Peace College for one year. She received a certificate in X-ray technology from University Memorial Hospital, Chapel Hill, N.C. In 1958, she married the love of her life, Boyce Haigler. She stayed at home for several years lovingly caring for their three children. Dr. Haigler later resumed her academic pursuits at the University of South Carolina and received a B.S. and M.N. in Nursing. She also received a Ph.D. in Health Promotion and Education from the USC School of Public Health. In addition, she was certified in Medical-Surgical Nursing by the American Nurses Association, received a Certificate in Parish Nursing from Baptist College, and received a Certificate of Faculty Development in Gerontological Nursing from Rush University.
Dr. Haigler’s nursing career began as a charge nurse in intensive care and shortly thereafter progressed to one of a nurse team assigned to the first post open heart unit opened at Providence Hospital in Columbia, S.C. She was appointed director and primary faculty for the Midlands EMS Primary Care Nurse Practitioner program. In 1982, Dr. Haigler accepted an appointment as faculty for the College of Nursing, University of South Carolina, and remained in the position until retirement as a Clinical Associate Professor in 2006. After retirement she assumed a part-time position with USC and taught a variety of undergraduate nursing courses.
Dr. Haigler spent four summers as a nursing faculty in a hospital on the Gaza Strip. As a result of her work, multiple students from Gaza are now working in hospitals in the U.S., Canada, and other foreign countries. She also participated in several mission trips to Cuba in which she established a parish nurse program and provided continuing education to health professionals in Havana. As a result of these trips, Dr. Haigler was named a Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary International for community and international service. Other awards and honors include the following: Mortar Board Recipient as an outstanding faculty member at the University of South Carolina; three times voted the most outstanding undergraduate nursing faculty at University of South Carolina; Palmetto Gold Recipient; National League of Nursing Award; Peace College Outstanding Alumni Award; Sigma Theta Tau National Nursing Honor Society; twice invited to present research at the Oxford Round Table, Oxford College, England.
In 2007, the Haiglers moved to Black Mountain where, during her “retirement,” Dr. Haigler served on the Board of Trustees for Montreat College, was employed by Maxim Healthcare to give flu shots, and served as an election polling place volunteer and judge. She was also an active member at Christ Community Church in Montreat. In addition, Dr. Haigler has visited countless sick family members, neighbors, and friends and helped them with healthcare questions and concerns. She enjoyed cooking, collecting antiques, hiking, playing bridge, gardening, knitting with friends, and was an avid reader. Most of all she loved spending time with her children and grandchildren.
Polly Haigler is survived by her husband of 58 years, Boyce Reid Haigler, her three children, nine grandchildren, and two sisters.