Liberia’s First X-Ray Technician Goes Home at 94

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The late Mrs. Myrtle Mason Smith-Bruce.

The sanctuary of the Mason Memorial A.M.E Church, located on Sinkor Old Road, was filled to capacity last Friday, as relatives, friends and sympathizers gathered there to celebrate the home-going of the eminent Liberian chief X-ray technician and radiographic expert, Mrs. Myrtle Evangeline Mason Smith-Bruce.

She died on October 30, 2017 at the Health Link Medical Facility in Accra, Ghana, following a brief illness. She was 94.

Mrs. Smith-Bruce once served as president of the Liberian Society of Radiographic Technologists. In the late 1940s to early 1950s she worked as a laboratory technician at the National Public Health Service of Liberia (now Ministry of Health), at the site on which the Liberian National Red Cross is now located.

On April 13, 1953, she matriculated to the Manhattan Medical Assistants School in New York, where she qualified as a certified X-Ray technician. She was the first Liberian female to specialize in the field of X-Ray technology and was featured in the Britannica Encyclopedia.  Earlier in November 1951, she was awarded the Medical Technicians Certificate by the Tubman National Institute of Medical Arts (TNIMA).

 

In April 1952, Myrtle along with her husband, the late Mr. John T. Smith, relocated to the USA where he was appointed as Accountant and Statistician at the Liberian Consulate in New York City. She returned home following the untimely death of her husband in New York.

In 1958 she returned to the USA for additional training at the Manhattan Medical Assistants School in New York.

In July 1971, the deceased attended an advanced course at the Washington Memorial Hospital, sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. There, in January 1972, she was awarded a Certificate in Advanced X-Ray Technology by the United States Public Health Service.

 

In April 1975, she again attended a Teachers Seminar of the International Society of Radiographers and Radiological Technicians in Malaysia.

Mrs. Myrtle Smith-Bruce began her long, distinguished career as the Chief X-Ray Technician of the Liberia Government in 1960. She also provided part-time services at Dr. West and Dr. Snetzer Clinics, respectively.

She served as president of the Liberian Society of Radiographic Technologists and was instrumental in the Incorporation, by an Act of Legislature on January 30, 1977, of the Society and School of Radiographers. Subsequently in 1978, she represented Liberia at the International Society meeting in Canada, and Singapore in 1979.

Mother Myrtle became a Christian at an early age and later became a member of the St. Thomas Episcopal Church. In a tribute to his mother, J. Terence Smith, said Mrs. Smith-Bruce was always there for her children.   According to him, his late mother was an inspiration to him, the family and many others.

“You have been counseling, advising, guiding and helping to make life a worthy and meaningful experience. Thank you for all the years you gave of yourself to me, my siblings and other members of the family.”

In her funeral sermon, Rev. Roseline S. Barnes, senior pastor of the Mason Memorial A.M.E. Church, urged the bereaved family and sympathizers to serve well in whatever capacity they are called to serve.

Rev. Barnes described the late Mrs. Smith-Bruce as a woman who truly cared for her family and others. Preaching from Acts 13:36, Rev. Barnes said: “David served God’s purpose in his own generation, and he fell asleep.”

She urged the bereaved family and sympathizers to emulate the example of the late Mother Smith-Bruce, who well served her country, family and church before her demise.

Mrs. Myrtle Smith-Bruce was born on October 15, 1924 in Arthington, Montserrado County, unto the union of Mr. Johnson Boto Mason and Madam Lilly Melissa Turkett Mason. The deceased was active in fraternal, civic and social organizations and served as the Past Grand Matron of the Order of Eastern Star, Dorcas Chapter.

On November 18, 1943, Myrtle was joined in Holy Matrimony to Mr. John T. Smith at Mount Carmel A.M.E. Church in Arthington, Montserrado County. To this union two sons, J. Terrence and Roderick G. Smith, were born.

Following Mr. Smith’s death, the deceased married William T. Bruce, Sr. on August 11, 1962. This union was blessed with two daughters: Musu Bruce Reid and Willa T. Bruce Gooding.

 

Myrtle stood with her husband, Mr. Bruce, in the establishment of City Plumbing and Construction Company, a prominent and successful Liberian- owned business enterprise.

Mrs. Myrtle Smith-Bruce leaves to mourn her loss, her children: J. Terence Smith, Roderick G. Smith, Willa Bruce Gooding (Julius), Musu Bruce Reid, Delores Bumpty Maxwell, Ernest C.B. Bruce, William T. Bruce, Jr. (Watchen); her sister, Chief Mrs. Opral Amanda Benson, grand and great grandchildren and scores of other relatives and friends.

Interment took place in the Arthington Township Cemetery, Montserrado County.

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