In Loving Memory…

Benigna Hausam

Benigna Chavez Hausam, age 86, of Sedalia, died peacefully on Friday morning, September 21, 2018 at James River Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Springfield, Missouri following a short stay there in hospice after suffering a stroke, probably on August 30. She was surrounded by her loving children Wiley, Richard and Karen and their families.

Mrs. Hausam was an exemplary, well-known and admired nurse at Bothwell Hospital from 1963 until her retirement in 2001. She was born on October 31, 1931 in a poor village high in the Andes Mountains in Llallagua, Potosi, Bolivia, South America, and named Benigna Chavez Barrios, the second child of Benigno Chavez Claros, a foreman in the Patino tin mines there, and his wife Ascencia Barrios Crespo, who was an indigenous South American and whose native language was Quechua.  

At about the age of 16, Benigna’s appendix was removed in an emergency surgery at an American Methodist-run hospital near La Paz, Bolivia, where the family had moved.  Soon after, she converted to the Methodist Church and developed a strong interest in nursing as a career. In November 1952, she graduated from the Clinica Americana in Obrajes, Bolivia, a nursing school and hospital supported by the American Methodist Church and run by two remarkable American missionaries, Dr. Frank Beck and his wife, Bessie Beck.  Benigna became a staff nurse there. She then worked as a nurse for two years at the Sweet Institute in Santiago, Chile. She returned to the Clinica Americana to become head nurse there.

Recognizing Benigna’s potential and ambition, Mrs. Beck offered to secure a nursing position for her at a small hospital in Rock Rapids, Iowa.  Benigna expressed enthusiasm at the prospect, accepted the offer, journeyed alone to America by plane, and began working in Iowa in August 1955. Her father, a foreman for a Bolivian railroad as well as the company soccer coach, had encouraged her to take advantage of this opportunity, and it changed her life completely.

While in Iowa, in the summer of 1956 she met a traveling salesman named Harold Hausam from Sedalia, Missouri who was 15 years her senior. They fell in love quickly, were married on January 25, 1957, and remained married for 48 years until Harold’s death in July 2005 at the age of 89. (Harold died of complications from a stroke and Benigna nursed him at home during the last six months of his life with the assistance of two aides as well as hospice visits.)  

At the beginning of Harold and Benigna’s marriage they lived in Boulder, Colorado, Tucumcari, New Mexico, and El Paso, Texas (Benigna worked as a nurse in all three locations). The Hausam’s and their three young children, Wiley, Richard and Karen moved to Sedalia in September 1963.  Benigna began working at Bothwell Hospital as a staff nurse. The family joined Wesley United Methodist Church and Mrs. Hausam was an active member of the congregation there until July 2010.

Following her graduation from nursing school at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City in 1972, and after many years of excellent service at Bothwell Hospital, in 1982 Benigna was promoted to Nurse Supervisor #6 (on the 3 – 11 p.m. shift) and remained in the position for 15 years until her retirement from full-time nursing in December 1997.  Mrs. Hausam held the nurses who reported to her to a high standard and encouraged her patients to a swift recovery. She continued to work part-time until July 2001. Altogether, she worked as a nurse for almost fifty years.

Mrs. Hausam loved to travel. With her husband, she traveled throughout the western United States and to Mexico.  With the Third National Bank travel group, she saw the rest of the world, visiting Hawaii, Alaska and such countries as England, Scotland, Ireland, Italy (Rome, Florence, and Venice), Spain, France (the Riviera), Switzerland, Greece, Canada, Costa Rica, Panama, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia, Australia and New Zealand.  

She volunteered for a number of years for the local chapter of the American Red Cross.

Mrs. Hausam exemplified the American Dream. As an emigrant to the United States from Bolivia, she became a naturalized United States citizen in August 1962 in El Paso, Texas, succeeded in her profession, purchased her own home at 906 Royal Blvd. and saved money for a secure retirement. She was a strong, independent woman with energy, initiative, optimism and determination who provided a secure home for her three children.  Mrs. Hausam was extremely grateful for the opportunity to move to the United States and make her life here, and often expressed this to the end of her life: “This is the greatest country in the world.” Although she stayed in touch with her family in Bolivia throughout the years, and returned to visit them four times, she never considered moving back to Bolivia.

Because of complications from a major back surgery in July 2010 and increasing dementia, she resided at Sylvia Thompson Residence Center from January 2011 – August 31, 2018, when she was hospitalized briefly in Kansas City.  Her acceptance of and adjustment to the loss of her memory was elegant and gentle. She was not afraid to meet death.

Survivors include two sons, Wiley Hausam and his husband Douglas Alves de Oliveira of New York City and Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Richard Hausam and his wife Agnes of Ozark, Missouri and daughter, Karen Shelby of Sedalia, as well as four grandchildren, Christopher Shelby, Sarah Finch, Macey Hausam and Seth Hausam. She is also survived by her sisters Lidia, Graciela and Cleta and her brother Mario, all of whom live in Bolivia. She was preceded in death by her older sister Leonilda, her parents and her husband Harold.  

The family will welcome friends at the Heckart Funeral Home on Wednesday, the 26th from 7 – 8:30 p.m. The service will also be at Heckart Funeral Home on Thursday, the 27th at 10 a.m. with the Reverend Dennis Harper of Wesley United Methodist Church officiating.  Burial will be in Memorial Park Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the Bothwell Regional Health Center Foundation or UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief).


  1. Mrs. Hausam sat at the same dining table as my mother, Phyllis Robertson. She was more quiet than other residents, but she had a very sweet smile and would sometimes add a comment to the conversation. My mother passed away on September 7th, and so I share the grief that your family feels right now. Our family extends our deepest sympathy to you!

    Cindy Hansen

  2. Dear Karen and Family,
    I treasure my years of knowing and working with your Mom,. You and many others know she was a remarkable woman! I am sorry for your lost and hopefully the good memories will comfort you.

    Janet Fairchild Roberts

  3. So sorry for your loss. Mrs. Hausam was a delightful woman. I shared a trip to Argentina with her and always enjoyed talking to her. Prayers of comfort for your whole family.

  4. May you find peace in your hearts through the memories of your mother and grandmother. My favorite part of her will always be her smile and enthusiasm for life and its adventures.

  5. Janet Lane Holcomb

    So sorry to hear of the passing of Benigna. She and my mother, Maurine Lane, were friends and co-workers for many years. Mom thought a lot of her and respected her as a fellow nurse. My condolences to the family.

  6. Karen so very sorry for your loss. Sending healing prayers for all of you. Your mother was a wonderful nurse. Prayers of comfort for all of you at this difficult time.

  7. Sorry to here of your loss. One of the things I remember about her was that she was always in pristine whites at work with never a hair out of place.

  8. Dear Karen, Wiley and Richard,

    I am so sorry for the loss of your dear mother. She was a wonderful woman who made her community a better place with her presence and her skills. I pray you will have comfort and peace at this difficult time.

  9. I had the pleasure of working with Benigna on the 3-11 shift! She was a wonderful person, nurse and supervisor. Such a kind gentle woman. My thoughts and prayers to her family on this loss.

  10. My deepest condolences to her family. May the memories in which you shared be of comfort to you now and in the future.

  11. Wiley, Richard and Karen: I really hold your mother in my highest regards. She was a wonderful, sweet lady and did indeed hold us nurses to the highest standards. I am so sorry for your loss!

  12. Jeff and Shari Leeman

    I was sorry to hear of the loss of your mother. She was a very kind woman and a good neighbor. My thoughts are with you and your family. May memories of happier days help you through this difficult time.

  13. So sorry for your loss. I worked with her for wverai years. I could tell she koved being a buse.

    Prayers being sent your your way

  14. Karen and family, I’m sorry for your loss sending prayers to you and your family

  15. So sorry to hear of your loss. I worked with her and always thought that she was such an elegant lady… back in the day when we wore white uniforms. With sympathy. Keeping you in my prayers.

  16. sorry for your loss. I remember your mother with much fondness.

  17. Such a lovely lady. Prayers and good memories with each of you.

  18. I enjoyed working with Benigna for many years at Bothwell. She was a caring and professional nurse. Sending prayers of comfort and healing for your family.

  19. Condolences to the Hausam family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to your whole family. Psalms 147:3 says God, “heals the broken hearted, and binds up their wounds.” May God bring you comfort and peace.

  20. Don and Carol Sadler

    So sorry for your loss. We remember Mrs Hausam fondly for the years we worked with her at Bothwell. She was a wonderful person, nurse and supervisor.

  21. Karen, We are sorry for your loss. We always admired your mother. She was not only a great nurse but a wonderful person. I use to tell her that she was dressed up like she was going to a party. Every day she would come to work neat as a pin. . She was very proud of her American citizenship and a woman of faith. When she was training me to be #6, some of the nurses joked that we looked like Mutt and Jeff because of the differences in height. With loving memories and prayerful sympathy, Mike and Joy Simon

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