St. Luke’s Alumna Leaves Lasting Legacy

Helen Robertson feature

St. Luke’s School of Nursing alumna Helen (Gianutsos) Robertson remained grateful throughout her life for the experiences and training she received during nursing school. Through thoughtful gift planning, Helen was able to create a scholarship in her name. She aimed to provide funding for students who would otherwise not have the funds to attend nursing school, giving them access to the same caliber of career-shaping opportunities she felt she had at St. Luke’s, a predecessor school to Rush University College of Nursing. Helen died Aug. 4, 2020, but her legacy and memory will continue to live on at Rush through her gift.

Helen grew up in Joliet, Illinois, and was inspired by the kindness nurses at St. Luke’s Hospital showed her family when her younger sister became ill with tuberculosis. The nurses gave her a tour of the hospital, encouraging her to become a nurse. Taking their advice, Helen applied for nursing school at St. Luke’s and was accepted at age 16.

Upon receiving her cap in a formal ceremony at St. Luke’s Chapel, Helen received additional training and took part in a pinning ceremony. During this time, she also participated as a member of the United States Cadet Nurse Corps, assisting World War II efforts. These milestones had a great influence on Helen, remaining a point of pride throughout her life.  

After working at St. Luke’s for two years post-graduation, Helen became an industrial nurse for ComEd, where she worked for more than 35 years. She met her husband, Donald, late in life at age 60. She often joked she was the only person she knew who had a retirement party and wedding shower on the same day. Helen and Donald spent their retirement years residing in Ashland, Wisconsin, and traveling the world.

Throughout her life, Helen looked back fondly on her time in nursing school. Motivated by her wish to help others have the same experience, Helen decided to establish the Helen C.G. Robertson Scholarship Fund. When she reached out to the Rush Office of Philanthropy, she learned about a variety of giving options to help her realize her wish. After many conversations, Helen chose to give in the form of a charitable gift annuity, which allowed her to secure a dependable income stream and make a lasting impact at Rush.

Along with a bequest from her estate, the remainder of her two charitable gift annuities will now be directed to create the Helen C.G. Robertson Scholarship Fund, which will help train future nurses. As the demands of the nursing profession grow, Rush University College of Nursing continues to expand its programs, research, community practice and clinical networks to meet those requirements head-on. It is gifts like Helen’s that allow the College of Nursing and its students to continue to grow.

To learn more about gift planning options at Rush, please contact Susan Sasvari, senior director of gift planning, at

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