GOSHEN, Ind. (Mennonite Mission Network) - Former Mennonite Board of Missions worker, Nancy Rebekah (Hernley) Conrad, passed away August 28, 2010, in Goshen (Ind.). She was 91 years old.
Born March 18, 1919, in Scottdale, Pa., Nancy was the daughter of Henry and Daisy (Cutrell) Hernley, She attended Goshen (Ind.) College and La Junta Mennonite Hospital School of Nursing (Colo.), earning her BA and RN degrees in 1943.
As World War II wound down in Europe and the Pacific, Nancy traveled on a troop ship to a United Nations refugee camp near Alexandria, Egypt. There she ministered to the medical needs of Yugoslavian women and children left homeless and traumatized by the war. Later, she worked in a similar camp with Greek women in Gaza, Palestine. During this time, Nancy was given the nickname Sunshine by those she worked with.
In 1945, Nancy transferred to Nazareth, Ethiopia, where in January 1946, she married Paul L. Conrad of Canby, Ore. For the next three years, the Conrads helped found the first hospital in the Nazareth area.
From 1951 to 1967, Nancy and Paul Conrad served in Dhamtari, India, with Mennonite Board of Missions, a predecessor agency of Mennonite Mission Network.
Katherine Yutzy of Goshen said she and Nancy became friends more than 40 years ago when they served together at the hospital in Dhamtari.
“She was a mentor to me, a big sister, really,” Yutzy said. Though Nancy Conrad was busy raising her four children, Yutzy said, she had a special relationship with the local women.
“[Nancy] worked with them, talked with them, helped them and visited them,” Yutzy said. “She was accepted,” by the area women.
After the Conrad family returned to the United States in 1967, Nancy continued her education, receiving a BSc degree in Nursing (1977) and MSN (1979) from the University of Pittsburgh. For 10 years she had a private practice as a mental health nurse clinician and served on the board of Mennonite Mutual Aid. She also served as vice president (1980-1982), then president (1982-1984), of the Mennonite Nurses Association, which named her their Nurse of the Year in 1994. Nancy and Paul Conrad also worked with returning missionary families at Laurelville Mennonite Church Center, helping them with cultural readjustment.
In 2000, Nancy and Paul Conrad moved to the Greencroft retirement community in Goshen, and became members of College Mennonite Church.
Nancy Conrad was preceded in death by her husband of 62 years, Paul; by her parents; a sister, Lilian; brothers, Marshall and Ralph; and her oldest son, John.
Nancy Conrad is survived by her sisters, Ferne, Catherine and Martha; sisters-in-law, Elizabeth and Betty; her son, Glenn (Peggy), and their children; her daughter, Mary (Mathew) Lo, and their children; her son, Paul (Marti), and their children; son-in-law, Nick Steele; daughter-in-law, Yvonne, her husband Bob Forman, and their children Avram and Rosha; son-in-law, Caleb Hurst-Hiller; and several nieces and nephews.
Memorial contributions may be given to The Mennonite Education Agency/La Junta Mennonite Nursing Scholarship Fund.
- adapted from information provided by the Conrad family