Dr. LaNelle E. Geddes
Dr. LaNelle E. Geddes, a beloved teacher, colleague, mentor, and friend peacefully passed away on January 25, 2016. She was born September 15, 1935 in Houston, Texas, the daughter of Carl O. and Evelyn (Frank) Nerger. She was preceded in death by husband Dr. Leslie A. Geddes and a brother Carl O. Nerger, Jr.
LaNelle's professional career began in Houston, where she received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1957. She worked as a nurse for the Houston Independent School District and for the Texas Medical Center. She was the only woman selected to participate in an interdisciplinary doctoral program at the University of Houston to increase the number of scientists, an initiative supported by the National Defense Education Act. She graduated in 1970 with a PhD in biophysics, and served two years as an appointment at Texas Women's University, Denton, Texas and the Department of Physiology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston.
Dr. Geddes served as a professor in the Purdue School of Nursing from 1975-2003, when she retired as professor emeritus. Her influence on the School of Nursing was significant; both for her leadership and her contribution to the curriculum. She served as the Assistant Head from 1975-1980 and Head from 1980-1991. Her research was in cardiovascular physiology and her teaching emphasized the impact of human pathophysiologic alterations and their influence on nursing and medical care.
LaNelle's visionary inclusion of pathophysiology in the nursing curriculum empowered nursing students with the tools to make better clinical judgments and to be stronger patient advocates. Every Purdue nursing student took her class and her legacy lives on in each of them. She presented over 100 continuing education courses, lectures, and workshops to healthcare professionals during her career; bringing new knowledge to practicing nurses and paramedics in the Greater Lafayette community and around the state. From 1996-2003, Dr. Geddes taught pathophysiology to the IU School of Medicine students on the Purdue campus.
As a master teacher she set an unwavering standard of performance and inspired students to reach their full potential. Dr. Geddes received the most distinguished teaching award granted by Purdue, the AMOCO Foundation (now Murphy) award and was an inaugural inductee into the Purdue University Book of Great Teachers and fellow of the University Teaching Academy. She was also recognized by American Men and Women of Science.
Among her many recognitions, she was honored with the Helen B. Schleman Gold Medallion Award from Purdue and the Lafayette YWCA Salute to Women Award. Her multiple contributions to the Westminster Village community were recognized in 2015 by Westminster's Lifetime Service award.
LaNelle's greatest influence was on the students, faculty, and healthcare professionals with whom she engaged throughout her career. The thousands of graduates of nursing and medicine who were fortunate to have learned from her continue to make a positive impact. Her kindness, cheerful attitude, class, and positive presence will be missed by all that were blessed to know her.
A service to celebrate LaNelle's life will be held at the University Lutheran Church on March 4th, 2016 at 3:30 pm. Memorial contributions may be made to the LaNelle Geddes Scholarship in Nursing, Purdue University.
Published in Journal & Courier on Jan. 28, 2016.