Nellie Katherine Symm-Gruender, 65, of Rockport, Texas and Columbia, Missouri passed away April 19, 2017, after fighting a 4-month battle with cancer. Born Nellie Katherine Reynolds in Decatur, Illinois, Nellie graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 1969, already a Licensed Vocational Nurse. She went on to earn her degree as a Registered Nurse and was Director of Emergency Departments for several major-medical centers during her career. During her career, she was named Nurse of the Year by Seton and several other organizations for her exceptional work.
Nellie was instantly loved by everyone she met with her exuberant and bright personality. She loved sailing and traveling, and she combined the two by traveling in her sailboat on several extended cruises to the Caribbean. Nellie found great joy in visiting with the locals she met and learning their life stories.
She recently had her first book published, “Wisdom from the Cup”, a memoir of her adventures, each story a life lesson learned while acquiring one of the many coffee cups in her now grand collection. She was an accomplished fused glass artist and loved teaching students in her studio in Rockport, creating unique pieces of art.
Nellie also applied her nursing skills in her travels and volunteered numerous times on medical missions to Honduras through Honduras Good Works, which provides the only medical care available to thousands of people in the remote mountain regions. In 2016 she reorganized the nurse treatment boxes used in the brigades, bringing her excellent organizational skills to the task. She wrote a treatment handbook for the nurses to use when they are assigned to the “Treatment Nurse” role, while in the remote villages served. These two tasks greatly improved the function of this important position.
She paid for scholarships for several young Hondurans to continue their education, including one who completed her degree and is now a teacher. The young lady considers Nellie to be her child’s grandmother and they held a special connection through the years.
The board members of Honduras Good Works were so pleased and honored when she became a member of the board of directors in December 2016, although this was a role she never had a chance to fulfill. In light of Nellie’s dedication to Honduras Good Works, and to the people of Honduras, a memorial fund is being established in her name. All funds will be used for medical mission and scholarships. Please feel free to share any thoughts or memories as well.