Out of Retirement

Mary Lightfine, a Daytona Beach Shores resident and retired nurse, enjoys the beach.

Petite and vivacious, Mary Lightfine was a world-traveling nurse before she retired in 2013.

But the pandemic brought the attractive 65-year-old Daytona Beach Shores widow back into action.

Ms. Lightfine is a seasoned emergency room nurse who put her skills to work around the world. In the 1980s, she worked as a nurse on two different cruise ships.

Then, in 1992, she acted on a long-time fascination with Africa (“ever since I saw Tarzan on TV” she says) and joined International Medical Corps. She spent 13 months in Mogadishu, Somalia, during a time of anarchy and civil unrest, as a nurse. She later wrote a book about her experiences there, “Nurses, Nomads and Warlords.”

She added, “I found that many of my patients from foreign countries were very appreciative.”

Her late husband, Paul Rooy, also was a writer. His third book, “The Skymaster and the Pirana,” was about their adventures crossing the Amazon River basin in a twin-engine Cessna aircraft while on their honeymoon. Ms. Lightfine co-piloted the adventure. She has both private and multi-engine pilot’s licenses.

She also was a speaker who gave lectures, sharing her experiences as a world-wide nurse, with public audiences. She was nominated for college lecturer of the year three years in a row after sharing the experiences.

Ms. Lightfine lived and worked in more than a dozen countries. She is a veteran of International Medical Corps as well as Doctors Without Borders. She also was founder and president of Volunteers Without Boundaries and Nurse Without Boundaries.

She traveled to Paris and studied French. Then she went to Sir Lanka with Doctors Without Borders and lived in a refugee camp, using a bombed-out school as a hospital. She came back to the United States, then went to England and studied tropical medicine and community health. She went on to work with Doctors Without Borders in a number of other countries.

In 1997 she came home to the U.S., then Doctors Without Borders called her again. She went to New York City and worked in their resource department, helping recruit volunteers and doctors.

This is not a woman destined to remain retired. When the pandemic hit, she immediately set her sights on giving the vaccine. She will soon be working out of DeLand, giving vaccinations and doing Covid-19 testing.

“I like doing things to help,” she said. “It was not very interesting (staying home) during the pandemic. Giving vaccines (to help) will be much more fulfilling.”

Ms. Lightfine paused before she continued, “We all want to have a reason to wake up every morning, and helping other people gives me that reason. I will jump out of bed with enthusiasm now that I am employed by the State of Florida, giving vaccinations and testing.”

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