Navy nurse spent life caring |

Navy nurse spent life caring

Jacob Tierney

Mary Theresa Pfeifer met her future husband, James, when she was stationed in Puerto Rico as a Navy nurse during the Korean war.

He was a medic, and the pair hit it off quickly. There was just one problem — military regulations.

“They weren’t allowed to date, so they had to sneak around,” said their daughter, Debra Lanager.

The couple didn’t have to stay stealthy for long. After they were discharged, they returned to Mr. Pfeifer’s hometown of Mt. Pleasant to be married.

Mary Theresa Pfeifer, 86, of Alverton, died Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2018, at Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital.

She was born Jan. 18, 1932, in Fall River, Mass., the daughter of Joseph and Annie Davis Cyr.

She wasn’t one to shy away from a challenge. She enlisted in the Navy Nurse Corps soon after graduating from nursing school in Fall River.

“That was her calling, to care for others,” Lanager said.

After her service, she worked 37 years as a nurse for several local institutions, including the State Correctional Institute in Greensburg.

“She had some interesting adventures as a nurse,” Lanager said.

Once, Mrs. Pfeiffer called her family to say she’d be home late from work. There had been a riot at the prison.

In addition to nursing, Mrs. Pfeifer raised five children and sewed all their clothes.

“I don’t know when she slept, to be honest with you,” Lanager said. “She was a doer. She was always there for us. She never said, ‘I don’t have the time.’ ”

Michael Pfiefer said his mother was the type of woman who would stay up all night caring for her children when they were sick.

“She always had good things to say about everybody. She never had anything bad to say about anybody,” he said.

After her retirement, Mrs. Pfeifer enjoyed golfing, being a member of the Red Hat Society and going out to lunch with her nursing friends.

She was an active member of the Partner Parish of St. John the Baptist Church in Scottdale and American Legion 240.

Ms. Pfeifer is survived by her children: Coleen Hodgkiss of Scottdale, Debra Lanager of Greensburg, Brian Pfeifer of Alverton and Michael Pfeifer of Virginia Beach, Va.; three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her husband, James Pfeifer, and daughter, Patricia Erwin.

Friends will be received from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Sunday at Saloom-Rega Funeral Service, 730 W. Main St., Mt. Pleasant. Parting prayers will be held at 10:30 a.m. Monday at the funeral home, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 11 at the Partner Parish of St. John the Baptist Church, Scottdale.

Interment with military honors conducted by American Legion Post 240 will be held in St. John the Baptist Cemetery. A parish vigil wake service will be held at 7:45 p.m. Sunday in the funeral home.

Memorial contributions may be made to the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital Memorial and Honor Gifts, P.O. Box 1000, Dept. 142, Memphis, TN 38148-0142.

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jacob at 724-836-6646, [email protected] or via Twitter @Soolseem.

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