NEWTON, Kansas (Mennonite Mission Network) – Nancy L. Martin, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, spent most of her career as a medical missionary in Nazareth, Israel, serving through Mennonite Board of Missions, a predecessor agency of Mennonite Mission Network. She died Sept. 16 at her home. She was 78.
Nancy and Robert, her husband of 56 years, spent most of their careers as medical missionaries in Nazareth. She had the privilege of helping local colleagues to start a school of nursing for registered nurses among the Arab Israelis of Galilee. It continues today as the Nazareth School of Nursing. During her tenure, Nancy saw it accredited by Israel's Ministry of Health. She served as director of nursing education from 1987-1995.
Service colleagues and those who worked with her in other capacities hold fond memories of Nancy, including Sandra Shenk Lapp. She and her husband, John F. Lapp, served with Nancy and Robert in Israel-Palestine from 1988-1996.
"Nancy was a loved and respected mission coworker," Shenk Lapp recently wrote in an e-mail. "She cared for and advised us as we navigated our ministry roles and learned how to be new parents. As she interacted with staff and nursing students in Nazareth, Nancy modeled a wonderful combination of professionalism, Christian service, and cultural sensitivity. We learned so much from her."
At her memorial service in Lancaster on Oct. 5, Richard Mayhew, CEO of Nazareth Trust, remembered Nancy's four-year battle to get the Ministry of Health to accredit the school. The battle included her determination to recruit students from the villages, and the expansion from one room in the hospital to today's campus with facilities to train about 400 nursing students each year.
"Nancy is remembered for her love for the students and staff, and for her resoluteness over so many years in establishing today's Nazareth School of Nursing, the only Arab school of nursing in Israel," Mayhew said.
"[It involved] a four-year battle to get the Ministry of Health to accredit the school, a recruitment of students from the villages, the expansion from one room in the hospital to today having its own campus and now nearly 400 students each year training for the nursing profession."
A 1963 graduate of Goshen (Indiana) College, Martin received her master's degree in nursing from West Virginia University in 1981. She earned her doctorate in Administration of Higher Education in 1987 from West Virginia University, Morgantown.
Nancy retired in 2007 after serving as former executive director of No Longer Alone Ministries in Lancaster. As faculty, she taught nursing at West Virginia University, York College of Pennsylvania, and the Nazareth School of Nursing. She was certified as a clinical specialist in medical-surgical nursing.
Nancy served on many boards of nonprofits in this country and Israel, including her most current work for some of those nonprofits as a volunteer.
She was a member of East Chestnut Street Mennonite Church, Lancaster, where she served in various ministries. Her focus in life was to promote health and faith.
Born in York, Pennsylvania, she was the daughter of the late James S. and Alma M. (Groff) Rudy. She found pleasure in doing family genealogy and writing of the family histories.
She is survived by her husband, Robert, and two children, R. Craig Martin, MD, married to Carol Ann (Call) Martin, of Georgetown, Kentucky; and Karen L. Gish, of Wrightsville, Pennsylvania; and five grandchildren. They are Zachary S. Gish, married to Alexandra (Poff), of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania; Madelyn L., married to Macson McGuigan, of Harrisonburg, Virginia; Charles G. Gish, of Wrightsville; John R. Martin, of Barboursville, West Virginia; and Samuel T. Martin, of West Point, New York.
Also surviving are her sister, Sarah E. Sauder, of New Holland, Pennsylvania; her brothers, John H. Rudy, and his wife, Lucy Gehman, of Lancaster, and Clarence E. Rudy, of Lititz, Pennsylvania; and a sister-in-law, Eva M. Stetter Rudy, of Thomas, West Virginia.
She was predeceased by her sister, Mary Jane Detweiler, and her husband, Richard C. Detweiler, of Lansdale, Pennsylvania, as well as her brother, J. Paul Rudy, of Thomas.