Know Your Neighbor: Monte Stiles

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Long before men enjoyed the nursing profession in large numbers, Monte Stiles pioneered a 40-year nursing career.

Stiles received a bachelor of fine arts degree at the University of Houston with concentrations in pottery and jewelry. "Much as I loved the creative aspect of the field of art, I began to wonder whether or not I could make a living through this work. I felt that art may be too iffy. I prayed about returning to school to study business. I spoke to my parents, and they thought the change was a wonderful idea," explained Stiles during an interview in El Prado.

The former art major's search for prerequisites for business courses led to a more thorough exploration of possibilities. Stiles questioned many areas: what to study, where to study. He decided to study nursing at Houston Baptist University from where he graduated in 1977.

In Houston, Stiles worked in neonatal care, intensive care and pediatrics. His work changed a bit in Austin where he served as a school nurse and in neonatal intensive care. For 22 years, Stiles worked in Amarillo, Texas. Four of those years occurred in neonatal intensive care and 18 years as the director of nursing.

Following the death of his parents, Stiles decided to change some aspects of his life, and that included a new location. Since childhood, Stiles had visited Red River and Taos on vacations.

He recalled his late mother's positive reaction to this area because of her experiences at the epicenter of the Dust Bowl. "I thought about it and decided that I'd better do what I wanted to do, and that meant more involvement with the Taos community. I bought my house and later moved here permanently in 2003," Stiles said.

For the past 15 years, Stiles has enjoyed his various assignments at Holy Cross Hospital. He served as shift house manager for two years and surgery recovery room nurse for 10 ½ years. Another surgical department function includes Stiles' work on preadmission interviews for a year and a half. This past year included another career change to peer review coordinator. The latter assignment calls for a 20-hour work week.

"I've enjoyed every bit of my nursing career. While the babies are my favorites, I like all my years of nursing," confided Stiles.

It remains no surprise that Stiles, a health care professional, works at what he terms, "staying healthy." This goal includes gym activity three to four times a week.

Regarding sports, self-avowed tennis fan Stiles enjoys watching tournaments on television. He visits with friends to play dice or dominoes and enjoys bowling on occasion.

Stiles uses brain power for two of his favorite activities: reading books and watching TV's "Jeopardy." His taste for fiction includes award-winning books (Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, Mann Booker Award and Orange Award), which he purchases at used bookstores. "I'm never without a book. In fact, I have two bags full of books just ready to read. I don't read just any novel for no reason. I'll read a bio if I like the person, such as Leonard Cohen. There are definitely no self-help books in my reading interests," said Stiles. Regarding "Jeopardy," he records the program if he can't watch it live.

Other interests include garage and estate sales, both buying and selling at the KTAO and Pojoaque (formerly Santa Fe Opera) Flea Markets, and his solar sunroom filled with plants. He confesses to a weakness for Northern New Mexico food, including chile rellenos, enchiladas, tamales and calabacitas. Favorite local restaurants include Ranchos Plaza Grill and La Cocina.

With a successful 40-year nursing career and many years as a Taos resident, Stiles loves his life. "I've lived as I wished, and it's all been very worthwhile. I consider nursing a calling, one I am glad that I answered," he said.

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