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Etna A. Weinhold, combat nurse

ChristianityRoman CatholicismCancerVietnam War (1955-1975)

Etna A. Weinhold, a former combat nurse who served with the Army in Vietnam and later spent four decades at Greater Baltimore Medical Center as clinical manager of its postpartum units, died Nov. 10 of cancer at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson.

She was 67 and had lived in Towson.

"She will forever be the needle, which for 40 years wove the tapestry of who GBMC is to our community, proclaiming by her very breath: in all we do the patient always comes first," wrote chaplain J. Joseph Hart, executive director of spiritual support services and executive director of GBMC's Center for Spiritual Support Training.

Etna Anne Anderson was born in Baltimore and raised on East Clement Street in Locust Point. She was educated at St. Mary's Star of the Sea parochial school and graduated in 1962 from Southern High School.

Mrs. Weinhold came to her calling early in life.

"She was known by her siblings as the responsible one who always did the right things for the right reasons. As one of the older siblings, she quickly found her passion and unique skill in caring for others as she helped raise her younger brothers and sister," said a son, Robert W. Weinhold Jr. of Fallston, a former city police spokesman.

Mrs. Weinhold completed her nursing training in 1964 from the Sinai Hospital School of Nursing, and the next year enlisted in the Army Nursing Corps.

Commissioned a second lieutenant, she was sent to Vietnam as a combat nurse.

Before leaving for Vietnam, she met Maj. Robert W. Weinhold Sr. an Army Ranger, while sitting in a Chicago airport. The couple fell in love and were married three months later.

"She had an extremely strong faith, and I think this helped in Vietnam. She never talked about it a lot, but she knew what sacrifice was," said her son.

After serving in Vietnam, Mrs. Weinhold was discharged in 1966 with the Vietnam Service Medal and settled with her husband, a career military officer, in Towson.

Mrs. Weinhold went to work at GBMC in 1971 and eventually became clinical manager of the hospital's postpartum units 25 and 26.

Aside from a daily routine of mentoring, scheduling, evaluations and daily meetings, Mrs. Weinhold, in conjunction with a local Baltimore architect, helped redesign the postpartum units, which allowed new fathers to stay in the recovery room with mothers and babies.

Essential medical equipment was hidden from view while doting parents, grandparents and other family members could welcome a newborn in a comfortable, hotel-like setting rather than a sterile hospital environment.

"This award-winning project clearly set the gold standard for the industry," her son said.

"She was a skilled administrator, always affirming all were a part of her team. She was also tough, holding her staff to the highest of standards, which she herself lived and emulated in her practice," Mr. Hart wrote in his eulogy.

"She never desired the attention to be on her but on the work her colleagues championed. She served on countless committees and task forces at GBMC over the years. Having Etna on your committee meant the highest standards in patient care would always be achieved," he said.

In September, because of her illness, Mrs. Weinhold missed the annual employee dinner.

"In early October, the president of the hospital and other GBMC executives came to Gilchrist, where they gave her flowers and certificates for her more than 40 years of service," her son said. "That was also her official retirement."

Mrs. Weinhold enjoyed planning and hosting dinners for family and friends. She was also known for the large Christmas Eve dinner that she held each year.

"She loved Christmas, and every year gave everyone an ornament that she had personally selected for them and then had it wrapped and placed on their dinner plate," her son said.

Mrs. Weinhold was an avid gardener, bird-watcher and traveler.

"Etna was a vibrant, engaging and thoughtful person," Mr. Hart recalled the other day. "She was a person that when she met you, made you made feel as though you were her best friend."

Mrs. Weinhold was a communicant of Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church in Towson, where a Mass of Christian burial was offered Tuesday.

In addition to her husband and son, Mrs. Weinhold is survived by two other sons, Greg W. Weinhold and Christopher Weinhold, both of Towson; a daughter, Tierney Little of Leesburg, Va.; two brothers, Clifford Anderson of Severna Park and Karl Anderson of Pasadena; a sister, Linda Macken of Locust Point; and eight grandchildren.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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