Grace Rita Decker, age 105, passed away on Sunday, June 29, 2008 at Edgewater Nursing Home. Grace was active throughout her life, helping along the way many people who would remain her lifelong friends. Her faith in God saw her through many trials and joys.
Grace Rita Decker
J. Levy & Termini Funeral Home
Grace was born on January 9, 1903---more than 11 months before the Wright brothers flew the first airplane---to Walter A. Decker and Sarah Lafollete Decker on a rice farm near China, Texas. She was the fourth of seven children. Shortly after starting school, Grace moved with her family to Missouri in 1910. She would later attend the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Missouri in Columbia.
Grace moved with her family to Houston, Texas, and entered the School of Nursing at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston(UTMB), graduating in 1929. She taught nursing fundamentals there for two years and then moved to Butte, Montana, to teach and supervise the last graduating class at the Murray School of Nursing. She returned to her family in Texas, living with them near Mont Belvieu.
Grace later traveled to El Paso, Texas, serving for four years as a civilian nurse at the William Beaumont Army Hospital. She would later work in New York, Connecticut, Michigan, California, New Mexico and again in Texas. She attended Incarnate Word College in San Antonio, Texas during World War II to help fill a need for nurses with teaching experience for the Nurse Cadet Corps. Grace returned to UTMB to become a supervisor and was later appointed to chief nurse of the 127th University of Texas Army Hospital. She then reported to Camp Clairborn near Alexandria, La., to help select nurse applicants.
Several months later, she journeyed to England to work briefly at a hospital near the town of Bishop before reporting for duty in France. Grace returned to the United States a year later and was assigned to McClosky Army Hospital in Temple, Texas. She remained there until she was discharged at the end of the war.
She enrolled again at Incarnate Word College in San Antonio and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in teaching. Grace then went to the Shannon Hospital School of Nursing in San Angelo, Texas, serving as its director for four years. She later attended the University of Colorado in Boulder and graduated with a master’s degree in teaching and administration in nursing in 1953. After graduating, Grace became director at the St. Elizabeth Hospital School of Nursing in Covington, Ky., maintaining that position for four years until she was hired by the United Mine Workers to establish a nursing school in Harlan, Ky. Students arrived at the school a year later. After graduating a class each of the four years she ran the school, she retired from her storied nursing career.
Grace traveled extensively during her retirement, returning to the many places where she had lived and worked. She has been a blessing to many people and will always be remembered in the hearts of those she touched.
She is preceded in death by her parents, two brothers and four sisters.
She is survived by a niece and her husband, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Seward and their three sons and a nephew, James Patrick Scoggin and his son and two daughters.
Funeral services will be held on Thursday, July 3, 2008 at J. Levy & Termini Funeral Home at 1:00 P.M. Visitation will be held on hour prior to service time. Interment will follow at Galveston Memorial Park in Hitchcock, Texas.
Grace spent her final years in Room 103 at Edgewater Nursing Home. The family would like to thank Anna Boyd, Evelyn Tyler, Sherry Lockett and the late Ora Rivers at Edgewater for their kind care to her these past 10 years.
Memorials can be made to the Grace R. Decker Nursing Scholarship, P.O. Box 538, Galveston, Texas 77553.