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Long-time nursing educator to receive Bethel nursing alumnus award

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – A retired Bethel College professor of nursing will be honored at this year’s Fall Festival at the college.

Verda Deckert, Newton, will receive the Outstanding Nursing Alumnus Award from the Bethel Deaconess Hospital/Bethel College Nursing Alumni Association Saturday, Oct. 9, during the BDH/BCNAA annual meeting, which will be held in Memorial Hall, Room #3, on the Bethel campus beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Deckert received a nursing diploma in 1964 from the Bethel Deaconess Hospital School of Nursing. In 1965, she earned her B.S.N. at Bethel College and in 1990 her M.S.N. from Wichita State University.

From 1966-68, Deckert and her husband, Geoffrey Deckert, served with Mennonite Voluntary Service in Battleford, Saskatchewan, where Verda worked as an R.N. in a community hospital and on a Native reserve and was the money-earner who supported the MVS unit.

The Deckerts returned to Newton, where Verda taught in the BDH School of nursing until it closed in 1974. From 1974-75, the Deckerts lived in Okmulgee, Okla., where Geoff attended baking school and Verda worked as a public health nurse. From 1975-90, Verda worked in a variety of roles at Bethel Deaconess Hospital, including staff nurse and house supervisor. At the time of BDH’s merger with Axtell Hospital to form Newton Medical Center in 1988, Deckert was assistant vice president of nursing.

In 1990, as Deckert was finishing her master’s degree, she learned there was an opening on the Bethel College nursing faculty. Deckert taught at the college for the next 18 years, until her retirement in 2008. For all 18 years, she taught the Nursing Management class, and she often taught Community Nursing, one of the Bethel nursing program’s particular emphases.

Deckert served as advisor to the Bethel chapter of the Kansas Association of Nursing Students (BC-KANS) from its inception in 1992 until she retired and led several cross-cultural trips among the Lakota people in South Dakota.

Deckert has been a member of the American Nurses Association and Kansas State Nurses Association since 1964 and has held offices on both the local and state levels. She was a member of Sigma Theta Tau International, the nurses’ honor society, from 1990-2008 and held offices in the Epsilon Gamma Chapter-at-Large.

Deckert’s two daughters, Natasha and Maria, are also graduates of the Bethel College nursing program, in 1995 and 1996, respectively.

Deckert is a member of Faith Mennonite Church in Newton, where she is the congregational nurse and a member of the Board of Deacons. She is also a PRN surgical care staff nurse at Newton Medical Center. In retirement, she is enjoying gardening and spending time with her five grandchildren, who all live in the Newton and North Newton area.

Deckert will receive her award during the alumni association meeting that begins at 9:30 a.m., to which all are invited (a brunch reception begins at 9 a.m. for those who indicated their attendance by Oct. 1).

For more information, contact Geri Tyrell, Bethel instructor of nursing, at 316-284-5340.

Bethel College is the only private, liberal arts college in Kansas listed in the 2010-11 Forbes.com analysis of top colleges and universities in the United States and is in the first tier in its category in the U.S. News & World Report annual ranking of “America’s Top Colleges” for 2011. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see www.bethelks.edu.

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