BURLINGTON - Mary Nell Tucker Abernethy, 92, died peacefully surrounded by her family on Friday, May 30, 2014, at The Hospice Home, following several months of declining health.
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A nurse, teacher, writer, Christian homemaker, wife, friend, mother and grandmother, Nell Abernethy described herself as a simple country girl who tried to live the right life and do the right things, as she was taught in a loving home as a child. She was a dedicated, passionate and compassionate hard worker in all that she pursued. Despite success in countless endeavors throughout her life, she preferred to enjoy the accomplishments and happiness of the people she loved out of any spotlight of her own.
A native of Baileyton, Tennessee, she was the youngest of five children born to the late Gilbert Bruce and Mattie Ottinger Tucker on October 20, 1921. After high school graduation, she left home in 1941 to pursue a Diploma in Nursing at Rutherford Hospital in Rutherfordton, North Carolina, graduating and becoming a registered nurse in 1943. During her studies, she received specialized training in obstetrics and pediatrics in Pennsylvania.
She began her career as an obstetrics nurse and nursing supervisor at Rutherford Hospital. During World War II, at the request of the hospital's Chief of Staff, she organized Rutherford County's first obstetrics ward to locally serve wives and babies of soldiers overseas. Her skills took her out of the hospital frequently as she also worked with wounded soldiers sent to Lake Lure for burn therapy.
Mrs. Abernethy was working at Rutherford Hospital when she met the love of her life, Dr. Paul M. Abernethy, in January 1947. They were married on June 7, 1947, and had celebrated their 66th anniversary in June of 2013 before Dr. Abernethy passed away on September 11, 2013.
Dr. and Mrs. Abernethy worked as a team delivering babies and health care in Rutherford County until moving to Durham in 1948 for Dr. Abernethy to complete his residency at Duke University Hospital. The family moved to Burlington in 1952, and she worked in his eye, ear, nose and throat practice until dedicating all her energies towards her family and community.
Since 1952 she had been an active member of Front Street United Methodist Church. For more than 20 years she taught kindergarten Sunday school and vacation Bible school. Mrs. Abernethy was an active member and former president of the United Methodist Women. For 15 years she helped prepare lunches for the hundreds of people each year who attended Lenten services conducted at the downtown churches. She coordinated her church's support on numerous occasions for out-of-town emergency workers when storms in this area caused major damage. Mrs. Abernethy's great professional satisfaction came also as an American Red Cross nurse. For many years, as an extension of her joy at caring for her own family, she loved teaching new mothers about child care in Red Cross mother-baby classes.
An outstanding cook, she baked pound cakes that were legendary among her family and friends. Through the years her pound cakes have been served at celebrations and as wedding cakes for marriages up and down the Eastern seaboard. She easily expanded any meal to accommodate last minute guests or visiting family and friends from around the world.
Nell Abernethy was a member and former president of the Alamance-Caswell Medical Auxiliary and was actively involved for many years in the Antiques Fairs that raised scholarships for Alamance County students seeking medical careers and for health care needs in this area.
She was also a talented seamstress and creative force who made costumes for school plays, church musicals and clothes for her growing family and overseas missions.
She is survived by two daughters, Susan Glenn Abernethy and husband Dennis Rasmussen and Lt. Col. Mary Josephine Abernethy and husband Col. (retired) Lawrence (Rocky) Lane, all of Burlington; two sons, Paul McBee (Mac) Abernethy, Jr., and wife Cyndi of Liberty, and Judge Richard Bruce Abernethy of Gastonia; two grandsons, Richard B. Abernethy, Jr., of Jacksonville, Florida, and Paul Christian Rasmussen of West Monroe, Louisiana; one granddaughter, Laura Elizabeth Abernethy of Raleigh; and numerous nieces, nephews, grand and great-grand nieces and nephews.
In addition to her parents and husband, Mrs. Abernethy was predeceased by one sister, Margaret Josephine Tucker Neal, and three brothers, William Bruce Tucker, Barney Alden Tucker and Dale Barton Tucker.
Friends and family are invited to a graveside service at Alamance Memorial Park, 4039 South Church St. in Burlington on Tuesday, June 3, 2014 at 11 o'clock in the morning. A Service of Death and Resurrection will be held at 1:30 in the afternoon at Front Street United Methodist Church, 136 S Fisher Street, Burlington, conducted by Rev. Marshall Old and Dr. William C. Simpson, followed by visitation in the church's Heritage Center.
Words cannot express Mrs. Abernethy's and her family's gratitude to the caretakers and friends who lovingly tended to her during her declining health the last months. Their visits, kindnesses and loving attention comforted and brightened her life daily.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials to the Tucker family resting place, Price's Cemetery in Baileyton, Tennessee, c/o Phil Carter, 115 Grand View Lane, Greeneville, Tennessee 37745, or to Hospice and Palliative Care Center of Alamance-Caswell, 914 Chapel Hill Road, Burlington, NC 27215. Lowe Funeral Home & Crematory is serving the Abernethy family. You may sign the online register book at www.lowefuneralhome.com
Lowe Funeral Home & Crematory
2205 South Church Street
Burlington, NC 27215
Published in TheTimesNews.com from May 31 to June 1, 2014