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Published: Monday, 2/6/2006

Former Riverside nursing official strived to educate

Janeal Syacsure Kempf, 88, a nurse and longtime director of the former Riverside Hospital School of Nursing, died from complications of respiratory failure Thursday at St. Charles Mercy Hospital.

Ms. Kempf, who started her nursing and health-care career at the former hospital during World War II, retired from the hospital as a nursing school director and outpatient educator in 1983. After her retirement, she continued working at Riverside as a volunteer for the Red Cross Blood Program until 1993.

"She was a caregiver by nature," said Joseph Syacsure, her son. " She was always trying to help somebody."

Born Janeal Johnson in Lake Alfred, Fla., Ms. Kempf grew up in Florida, where she attended public schools, and then came to Toledo after completing high school.

Mr. Syacsure recalled that his mother had wanted to become a flight attendant.

"But in those days, you had to have a nursing diploma to become a flight attendant," he said. So on a visit to East Toledo to see her aunt, she decided to enroll in a nursing program at Riverside's nursing school.

Ms. Kempf, who after a few months of nursing school decided that she wanted to remain in health care, went on to receive her bachelor's and master's degrees from the former Mary Manse College.

She also received an education specialist diploma from the University of Toledo.

She started her career at Riverside, specializing in pediatrics, before going on to teach in the school of nursing at Riverside. By the time she retired, Ms. Kempf was mostly interested in patient education, helping people understand their sickness, said her son.

A longtime member of Messiah Lutheran Church, where she taught Sunday school for many years, Ms. Kempf enjoyed bowling, roller skating, and playing card games. She also traveled extensively in her retirement, making trips to Alaska, Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Japan, Hong Kong, England, Hawaii, and much of the United States.

Her son said she was in China during the Tiananmen Square uprising.

Surviving are her son, Joseph Syacsure; a granddaughter, and a grandson.

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. today in the David R. Jasin Funeral Home. The family suggests tributes to Messiah Lutheran Church.

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