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Lifelong nurse dies

She tended to her family, her community and her country

She tended to her family, her community and her country

April 16, 2006|By MARLO BARNHART

The first time Marvin Printz saw his future wife, then Sara Beard, was in 1954, when she was an Army nurse working at the same hospital in Japan where he was stationed.

"I didn't notice her at first," Marvin said. But after a brief rotation to a MASH (mobile Army surgical hospital) unit in Korea, she returned to that same Japanese hospital.

This time, Sara caught Marvin's eye.

"Then, we fell in love," Marvin said.

Married in May 1956, the couple would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary next month. Sara died April 7 at the age of 77, just five weeks shy of that milestone.

Daughter Patty Soper said her mother's death was unexpected even though she had been a resident at Reeders Memorial Home in Boonsboro for a number of months.

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"We certainly didn't think this would happen," she said.

Born in a very small town in Alabama called Pine Apple, Sara was one of 10 children. As soon as she was old enough, she received her nursing training at South Highlands Nursing School at the University of Alabama and joined the U.S. Army Reserve.

"She got called up and nursed in Kentucky and Alabama before she went to Japan and Korea," Marvin said.

After Japan, Sara completed her military nursing career in Texas. A short time later, Marvin went back to New Jersey and he, too, became a civilian again.

"I went to Alabama and we were married," he said. The couple then settled in Marvin's native Washington County.

While Marvin was working for Southern States briefly and then the Maryland Division of Correction, Sara put her extensive nursing training to good use first at Washington County Hospital, in private duty nursing and finally at the Maryland Correctional Institution's hospital, retiring in 1981 after more than 15 years there.

She also found the time to have two children, Patty and Lynn.

Even when retired, Sara always was ready to put her nursing skills to good use.

"She used to give us all flu shots every year," daughter-in-law Robbin Printz said. "It was a lot cheaper that way."

There also were stints taking blood for the American Red Cross and volunteering at St. James Brethren Church.

Robbin has been a member of the family since she married Sara and Marvin's son 15 years ago.

"She opened her arms to me, more like a mom would," Robbin said. "I had the best mother-in-law in the world."

Lynn ? older than his sister by three years ? said no one could have asked for a better mother, recalling how she served as his Cub Scout den mother.

"She knew all about us and loved us anyway," Patty said, smiling at her brother through moist eyes. "Mom and dad always knew where we were and who we were with."

Marvin said he and Sara planned and carried out many activities over the years, as both believed strongly in family.

Cooking was a favorite enterprise for Sara. Cauliflower with cheese was one of Patty's top requests, along with just about anything with chocolate on it.

Patty said it wasn't unusual for her to talk to her mother on the telephone several times a day.

"She'd always call me the last thing every night," Patty said. "Now, daddy does it."

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