Rhea W. Brocato, 88, nurse, teacher, studied...


Rhea W. Brocato, 88, nurse, teacher, studied art

Rhea W. Brocato, who overcame childhood polio and went on to train hundreds of nurses in the area, died of cancer June 4 at her son's Baltimore home. She was 88.

Born on a farm in the small town of Conneaut, Ohio, the former Rhea Whaley was inspired to become a nurse by her experiences after she contracted polio at the age of 9 and was hospitalized for a year, said her son, Baltimore attorney Francis S. Brocato.

A sister held her foot as she determinedly practiced walking -- until at the age of 18, she was able to abandon her crutches and walk without a limp, he said.

After completing training as a registered nurse in Erie, Pa., she came to Baltimore to find work in 1938. That year she married Frank Brocato, a Sicilian immigrant who for more than 50 years operated a downtown produce and flower stand at Lexington and Liberty streets.

The couple lived in Ednor Gardens for about 35 years before moving to Towson in 1977. Mr. Brocato died in 1985.

Mrs. Brocato was a supervisor at the old Montebello State Hospital, a rehabilitation facility, for about 12 years during the 1950s and 1960s. She earned a bachelor's degree in nursing in 1956 at the University of Maryland, and from the early 1960s until retiring in 1975 taught practical nursing for the state Department of Education at area hospitals.

Mrs. Brocato studied art, painted still life and landscape pictures, and enjoyed music and literature -- both writing and telling stories -- and baking peach pies with her two granddaughters.

In addition to her son and granddaughters, Mrs. Brocato is survived by two sisters, Mary Newlon and Helen Anthony, both near Erie.

A memorial service was held Monday at the Stony Run Friends Meeting House.

Beatrice S. Van Dyke, 93, chemist and librarian

Beatrice Sommer Van Dyke, who had been a chemist and librarian, died Tuesday of pneumonia at the Keswick Multi-Care Center in Baltimore, where she had lived since 1995. The former Columbia resident was 93.

A native of Hinsdale, Ill., the former Beatrice Sommer received a bachelor's degree in 1927 and a master's degree in chemistry in 1928, both from the University of Illinois.

Also in 1927, she married George E. Van Dyke, who died in 1970.

Mrs. Van Dyke worked in the chemistry department at the University of Illinois from 1929 to 1933, when she left to raise a family. She worked as a librarian at Boston University from 1962 to 1967 and moved to Columbia in 1969.

Private services are scheduled for tomorrow.

She is survived by a son, Peter Van Dyke of Baltimore; a daughter, Sara Van Dyke of San Francisco; four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Pub Date: 6/12/98

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