Merna F. Pelczar, 92

Registered nurse who helped husband write textbooks Obituaries

June 28, 2007

Merna F. Pelczar, a former registered nurse who assisted her husband with several of his microbiology textbooks, died of respiratory failure June 20 at her Kent Island home. She was 92.

Merna Foss was born in LaPorte City, Iowa, and was raised on her parents' farm. After earning her bachelor's degree in education in 1936 from what was then Iowa State Teacher's College in Iowa City, she taught high school for several years.

In 1940, she earned a bachelor's degree in nursing from the University of Iowa School of Nursing and was a registered nurse at the University of Iowa Hospital.

After marrying Michael J. Pelczar, a microbiology professor, she moved to College Park when he joined the faculty at the University of Maryland.

The former University Park resident had been active in the American Association of University Women and the University of Maryland Campus Club.

During her husband's years at Maryland, she contributed chapters in the area of nosocomial infections to several editions of his microbiology textbooks.

In 1978, when Dr. Pelczar was named president of the Council of Graduate Schools in Washington, she served as the organization's official photographer. She traveled extensively throughout the world, accompanying her husband to meetings of the CGS.

Since 1984, the couple had lived at Avalon Farm, their nearly 200-acre home on Kent Island.

Because of her husband's Polish heritage, she learned to prepare many of the country's native dishes. She also collected miniature turtles.

She was a communicant of St. Christopher's Roman Catholic Church, 1861 Harbor Drive, Chester, where a memorial Mass will be offered at 2 p.m. July 11.

Surviving are her husband of 66 years; a son, Michael R. Pelczar of Chestertown; and five daughters, Ann Markie of Denton, Patricia Haddad of Edina, Minn., Rita Pelczar of Chesapeake Beach, Josephine Clark of Betterton and Julia Swartz of Owings; two sisters, Marie Dowdall of Flathead Lake, Mont., and Joanna Olive of DeKalb, Ill.; 21 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

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