Nora D. Dean was born in Mercer County, KY to Samuel Harrison Dean and Emily Jane Dearinger Dean. She graduated from the Norton Training School for Nurses in 1915 leaving Kentucky to become Superintendent of Nurses at St. Rose Hospital in Great Bend, Kansas. She returned to Louisville to become surgical nurse at Deaconess Hospital in Louisville beginning in 1917. In 1918, she joined Dr. Irvin Abell’s hospital unit, serving as an Army Nurse in Europe during WWI. Upon her return to the US, she began study at the University of Louisville, obtaining her MD from the University of Louisville in 1927, joining the faculty in 1928. Dr. Dean practiced obstetrics, and was an anesthesiologist at St. Joseph’s Infirmary in Louisville for 40 years.