Nurse who treated Reagan after assassination attempt dies

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
Font Size:

E. Jeannette Kuhn, one of the nurses who treated President Ronald Reagan after he suffered a near-fatal gunshot wound in 1981, has passed away. Kuhn was the head registered nurse in the anesthesiology department the day Reagan was rushed to the George Washington University hospital after being shot at the Washington Hilton Hotel.

Kuhn, who worked at George Washington University Hospital from 1952-1993, was a modest woman — so modest that her December 3 obituary didn’t mention her encounter with history. “She always said that was just part of her job,” said her sister Judy House when reached by telephone. (I only knew about the story because she was from my hometown.)

“Her whole life was dedicated to being a service to other people, recalled George Kuhn, her brother.

In a rare 2004 article in the Frederick News Post, Kuhn did discuss her experience, noting that as soon as she heard Reagan was on his way to the hospital, she “rushed to prepare an operating room.” She also recalled Reagan’s famously humorous line about hoping the doctors and nurses were all Republicans. (Reached by phone, George Kuhn, her brother, didn’t know if she was a Republican, but he did say “she always voted for Reagan.”).

Miss Kuhn never felt comfortable wearing the gold-link bracelet with the White House seal the president gave to hospital staff. But her nephew Aaron House was kind enough to share this letter she received from the president with me:

Matt K. Lewis