Dr. Louise Noel was the McNabb Center’s first psychiatrist when it opened in 1948. Read about Dr. Noel from the Knoxville News Sentinel Editorial (9/25/90):
EAST TENNESSEE lost a pioneer last week
Dr. Louise Noel, who fought on the frontier of mental health care in East Tennessee, died at 75. In 1948, Noel was a co-founder of the Helen Ross McNabb Center for mental health care. She served the center as its executive director and first psychiatrist. In honor of that, the center contains the Louise J. Noel Therapeutic Nursery, which is used to care for abused children.
Born in Manila, the Philippines, where her American parents taught, Noel studied medicine in Colorado and at the New England Hospital for Women and Children. In 1946, she moved to Knoxville with her husband the late Dix W. Noel, who taught law at the University of Tennessee. The couple had six children.
Noel brought her psychiatric specialty to Tennessee at a time when psychiatrists were looked on as witch doctors and female psychiatrists were even more suspect, she once said.
When Noel retired from the center in 1984, she was away from it only a short time before the center requested her to come back part-time. She had worked at the center on that day last March when she had the stroke that ultimately caused her death.
Noel was a finalist for the recent Diamond Award honoring outstanding East Tennessee mental health care professionals. The nomination for the award credited her with helping enough people to fill Neyland Stadium twice over.
Noel once told a News-Sentinel reporter, “The sad fact of human nature is that the more we need love, the less lovable we become.”
Reworking that idea a little bit, we can observe with gratitude: The fortunate fact of human nature is there are always people like Louise Noel who come to the forefront when we most need them, to succor those of us who are least lovable.