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Surprise proposal stuns veteran NYC nurse

Monday May 12, 2014
Roz Noble, RN, and New York City firefighter Niambi Dukette, at left, met about a year ago through a mutual acquaintance.
Roz Noble, RN, and New York City firefighter Niambi Dukette, at left, met about a year ago through a mutual acquaintance.
(Photos courtesy of Roz Noble, RN)
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Noble, an ED nurse at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Allen Hospital, was surprised on St. Patrick’s Day by her boyfriend, Dukette, with a marriage proposal while she was at work. The couple plan to marry later this month.
As a veteran ED nurse, Roz Noble, RN, BSN, is conditioned to deal with unexpected events.

Still, Noble was not prepared for what happened on St. Patrick’s Day, when she thought her boyfriend, Niambi Dukette, was just being thoughtful and bringing her lunch at work.

Noble, a nurse at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Allen Hospital in the Bronx, got much more than lunch that day. She received a marriage proposal in the hospital waiting room in front of co-workers, as well as patients and their family members.

“Surprised doesn’t begin to cover it,” Noble said. “It doesn’t begin to explain how I felt. I truly had no idea. Not an inkling, not an inclination. Nothing.”

When Dukette arrived at the ED, no one else knew of his plan. He found Noble, took her hand, knelt down and proposed in front of the random audience. Noble, shocked and slightly embarrassed by the attention coming her way, accepted the proposal.

She couldn’t believe it when Dukette went to one knee.

“She was like, ‘No, no, not here! What are you doing?’” said Dukette, a firefighter on Harlem’s Engine No. 47. “My only fear was her initial reaction, being that I was doing it in front of co-workers and people she didn’t know. It was something we both wanted to do. We went to the jewelry store and picked out some settings and I picked the final product.

“I wanted to do something different. I wanted to make it memorable for her. I had a number of ideas running through my mind, pretty much that’s the best one I could come up with.”

Most people remember moments of their proposals, but Noble’s will be even more memorable. Her boss heard about it, as did other administrators at the hospital. The facility sent out the news and photos via social media, and now thousands of people have liked, shared and commented on the posts, wishing the couple well.
Margaret Murphy, RN, BSN, a close friend of Noble’s, was working with her when Dukette popped the question.

“I was shocked and elated for Roz, but not nearly as shocked as she was,” Murphy said. “It was a moment I will never forget. I felt so happy to be able to share in the joy of the moment. People in the waiting room and other employees began clapping and taking pictures.”

Noble and Dukette were introduced by a mutual acquaintance about a year ago and will be married later this month. Noble attends school full-time at Pace University, where she is studying to become a family nurse practitioner, a program she plans to complete by December. As a young girl, Noble saw her grandfather, Johnny Lee Noble, become ill and often watched nurses care for him. As the oldest of six grandchildren, she had a tight bond with her grandfather, and his caregivers made an impact.

“We were two peas in a pod,” said Noble, who has been an ED nurse since 2005. “That got me to thinking, ‘Gee, I’d like to do that someday.’ That was the moment when I knew I wanted to become a nurse.”

Noble and Dukette agree their professions, with the unpredictability and odd working hours, help with their compatibility.

“We’re both emergency workers, caregivers,” he said. “Even though our schedules don’t always align, we understand the demands our careers have on both of us. It definitely makes it easier when you’re with somebody who understands how demanding your career is. We have a connection there.” Noble also said things she and Dukette see every day offer a proper perspective on life.

“We don’t take things for granted because of what we see on a daily basis,” she said. “We deal with death. We deal with loss on many different levels. I try to show him every day how much I love him because I know any minute something can happen. I cherish him as much as I can.”

Joe Stevenson is a freelance writer.


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