Dr. Jocelyn A. Farrar, who realized a childhood dream of becoming a nurse and then spent nearly four decades in the field, died Saturday of mesothelioma at a second home in Isle of Palms, S.C. The longtime Mount Airy resident was 61.
"She was a nurse's nurse and was compassionate and loving beyond words," said Kathryn T. VonRueden, a clinical nurse specialist at Maryland Shock Trauma Center who is also an associate professor in trauma and critical care at the University of Maryland School of Nursing.
"We have been friends since 1986. We go way back, and even though we travel in the same professional circles, I still think of her as a mentor," said Ms. VonRueden. "She was an exemplary role model and an inspiration."
The former Jocelyn Anne McGraw was born in Silver Spring and raised in Ashton, Montgomery County, where she graduated in 1970 from Sherwood High School.
"Jocelyn dreamed of being a nurse since she was 5 years old, and she had a passion for direct patient care," said a daughter, Stephanie Harrison, who lives in New Market.
Dr. Farrar earned a bachelor's degree in nursing with honors in 1974 from the University of Maryland School of Nursing, and a master's degree in trauma and critical care nursing, also from the University of Maryland, in 1987.
She earned a post-master's acute-care nurse practitioner certificate in 1998 and her doctorate of nursing practice in 2008 from the University of Maryland School of Nursing.
Dr. Farrar was married in 1974 to Karl Ray Farrar, her seventh-grade middle school sweetheart, who now owns and operates Old Mill Construction.
"Jocelyn earned her master's degree while raising four children and working full time. She always possessed a strong determination and dedication to her family and her career," said another daughter, Karyn Farrar of New Market.
"She inspired one of her daughters to enter the nursing program at the University of Maryland, where she has taught hundreds of nurses over the span of her career," said Ms. Harrison.
Dr. Farrar began her career in 1974 as a clinical nurse at Montgomery General Hospital in Olney. The next year, she became a clinical nurse at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where she worked until 1996.
She was a clinical nurse instructor at the University of Maryland School of Nursing from 1987 to 1988 and again from 1999 to 2000. From 2001 to 2007, she was the trauma research manager and health initiatives specialist at Sinai Hospital.
Dr. Farrar returned to the University of Maryland School of Nursing in 2008 as a research assistant. From 2009 until 2013, she was an assistant professor in the acute-care nurse practitioner program as well as a clinical nurse specialist.
Earlier this year, she returned to her "first love of direct patient care," family members said.
Dr. Farrar was diagnosed in 2008 with the disease that ended her life.
"I've known Jocelyn since she was diagnosed over five years ago with mesothelioma, which involved surgery and removal of a lung, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and despite that, she was back in the gym and teaching within two months," said Mary E. Hesdorffer, a nurse practitioner who is executive director of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation.
"Jocelyn was very special and beloved in the foundation. She was a big advocate and did fundraising and even made a video," said Ms. Hesdorffer. "She was selfless and reached out. She didn't let the disease define her; she defined her own life. She had a steely mind and was going to live her own life."
"Jocelyn was a family-first kind of person, and the next ring out was her patients and friends," said Ms. VonRueden. "She was a blend of compassionate nursing and evidence-based nursing and that is a remarkable quality. She was able to combine both and role-modeled it."
Dr. Farrar continued working until mid-July, said Ms. VonRueden.
"She never complained or whined about her illness. She never stopped working," said Ms. VonRueden.
"She was not about self-pity, and that is why she was such an inspiration, and Jocelyn had a way of making people feel good about themselves and their accomplishments," she said. "She was such an uplifting person to be around."
Dr. Farrar was an executive board member of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation and an editorial board member of the Journal of Trauma Nursing. She was also a nurse practitioner on Maryland-1 Disaster Medical Assistance Team.
She was a volunteer with Lab Rescue of the Labrador Retriever Club of the Potomac and also volunteered with LifePoint Church.
Dr. Farrar enjoyed traveling with her family to Bermuda and Aruba and was an avid Orioles fan. She also liked spending time at her home in Isle of Palms.
Services are private.
In addition to her husband and two daughters, Dr. Farrar is survived by a son, Jeffrey Farrar of Eldersburg; another daughter, Christa Kahuda of Mount Pleasant, S.C.; and two grandchildren.
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