Academic journal article Nursing History Review

Eleanor Krohn Herrmann, February 1, 1935-July 31, 2012: Excerpts from a Eulogy by Lawrence Herrmann

Academic journal article Nursing History Review

Eleanor Krohn Herrmann, February 1, 1935-July 31, 2012: Excerpts from a Eulogy by Lawrence Herrmann

Article excerpt

You may wonder why this old Marine with the symbol of the fallen soldier on his lapel is officiating at this relatively informal service. Like her dear de- parted brother-in-law, John Gates, an apple farmer from Nova Scotia who earned a PhD, Dr. Eleanor Krohn Herrmann, RN, MeD, EdD, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing, was basically a farm girl from Great Barrington, Massachusetts, where she will repose next to the graves of her fa- ther, Martin, and her mother, Ellen, both immigrants from rural Sweden. With all her honors, degrees, awards, and her enduring legacy of students who be- came leaders in nursing education and nursing history, her two loves, Eleanor never lost the simplicity, the modesty, the humility, or the selfless sharing of that little barefoot farm girl who at age 13 years-with her mother in the hos- pital with her fifth child and fourth daughter, a 2-day-old Kristina-went to call her father to lunch on the family farm on the Housatonic and found that a hill had given way and a John Deere tractor had rolled over and crushed him to death. In typical Scandinavian fashion, he left no bills but no insurance. Mrs. Krohn went to work cooking, washing, and cleaning, and then became a house instructor at Northfield School for girls, devoting the sparse funds available to educating her son Frank, a University of Massachusetts- and Cornell-trained veterinarian. Mrs. Krohn eventually was decorated by then Governor John Volpe as Massachusetts' Mother of the Year for helping five kids through college and graduate school on a salary that never exceeded $7,500 a year.

Who should be telling Eleanors story, a clergyperson who rarely or never knew Eleanor, sermonizing truisms about life or truths from the scriptures about death and heaven, or the friend she put up with for 43.5 years of marriage?

A Congregationalist who once belonged to two synagogues, one in Cheshire and another across the street in Meriden out of respect for my faith, Eleanor was a deeply spiritual, ecumenical thinker whose experience with the continuity of life beyond death, actual experience, and confirmation, not mere faith or belief, made her unafraid of passing over. When my Marine brother Ron Perry was taking care of her in an emergency last spring, she told him she was not afraid of dying, she just hoped it wouldn't be painful.

In the late 1960s and 1970s, we studied privately with two advanced souls Alice Borchard Greene and her sister Gertrude. In the words of Alice's teacher, a student of Karl Jung, Eleanors passing was, I am sure, a glad release from physical limitations. We were taught that the soul is an entity which, like the seed, has gone down into the earth only to rise up above it again and be stronger for so doing. That process is the subject matter of all great religious teaching. It is the mystical allegory that led to the writing of the Book of Exodus for its inclusion in the Alexandrian Library in Athens.

Eleanor shared much of her experience with the continuity of life beyond death with the classes she taught in "Alternative Nursing." After high school, where she played center on the basketball team, Eleanor went on to study nursing at Adelphi, buying only one new pair of shoes in 4 years and cooking hamburgers in the snack bar to supplement her full scholarship. Years later, she was awarded Adelphi's Distinguished Alumna Award. After working in an emergency room, she went on to get one of two masters degrees at the University of Colorado and eventually a master's and her doctorate at Teachers College Columbia University.

Eleanor taught medical-surgical nursing, nursing ethics, alternative nurs- ing, and her first love, the history of nursing at the Universities of Wyoming, Syracuse, Colorado, Cornell, and Yale for nine years and finally for 10 more fulfilling years at the University of Connecticut (UConn). I teased her that she couldn't hold a job. The students at Yale gave her the Annie Goodrich Award as their best teacher. …

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