Louise Eckroth
April 13, 1920 – April 1, 2016

Louise Eckroth, a pioneer in nursing education, passed at her home in Florida on April 1, 2016. She was born April 13, 1920, just four months before women gained their right to vote in the United States. Her youth was spent in Natrona Heights, Pa., where she attended St. Joseph’s High School. Upon the passing of her identical twin sister (Jane) in 1938, Louise become interested in nursing. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from the University of Pittsburgh in June 1947 and was awarded the Florence Nightingale Lantern for high academic achievement. Just days before graduation, while standing in line to receive their caps and gowns, she met her future husband, John N. Eckroth.

John was also graduating and had earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. John and Louise were married on April 24, 1948.

The couple’s careers took them to Syracuse, N.Y., where Louise was a clinical instructor and supervisor of Orthopedic Nursing at Syracuse University Hospital. By 1952 the couple had relocated to Davenport, Iowa, where Louise became the director of nursing at St. Luke’s. At St. Luke’s, Louise was an integral part of balancing the classroom and clinical schedules for the nursing students. By 1954, the couple moved to Milwaukee, where Louise worked as night supervisor at Milwaukee Lutheran for ten years. The couple’s three children were born during this time and Louise took a Master’s in Nursing Education from Marquette in June, 1959.

Once their youngest child was in school, Louise became the director of nursing for the Milwaukee Jewish Home from 1964 to 1967.

Twenty years passed since graduating from Pitt and Louise realized that of all her academic pursuits she favored teaching. In 1967 she accepted a position as practical nursing instructor at WCTI in Waukesha. Between 1967 and 1978, Louise taught over 800 practical nursing students in the program. She recognized the importance for students to know what was important and understand why it was important.

As an educator, she had insights and implemented those insights and vast experience into curriculum development. In 1978, with the cooperation of the WCTC administration, approval of Wisconsin Board of Vocational, Technical and Adult Education and the Wisconsin Board of Nursing, Louise began curriculum development for the associate degree nursing progression tract for the experienced LPN. The ADN program was implemented in September 1980 and became a curriculum model for nursing schools across the United States.

Louise retired in 1983 and spent another 32 years with her family and gardens.

John passed Sept. 26, 1994, after 46 years of marriage.

During their 11 retirement years together, John and Louise worked in their gardens, on their home in the woods, and spent winters on the beaches of Florida.

Survivors include her older sister Josephine Wozniak, Pittsburgh, Pa.; younger brother, Edmond Rafalko (Jacquie) of Palm Coast Fla.; and younger sister, Eleanor McKay (Al) of Falls Church, Va.; and Louise’s eldest son Kurt of Wales, and his children, Katie (Ben Liesch), Kim and Willie; and Katie’s children Gethin, Liesl, and Ivan. Survivors also include Louise’s daughter Heidi of Oconomowoc and her children Heidi and Heath Nunnemacher. Her son Wulf lives in Satellite Beach, Fla.

Funeral services will be provided by Church and Chapel on Saturday, April 9, located at 380 Bluemound Road at the corner of highways J and JJ. Visitation will be from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. with services to follow. Refreshments will be served.

Internment will be 1 p.m. the same day at Ottawa Cemetery next to her husband.