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Eleanor Nelson's Story

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NEWBURYPORT, MA - Eleanor Nelson (Small) Abby, age 94, longtime Newburyport resident, died Monday afternoon, December 18, 2017, at Anna Jaques Hospital with her family at her side. She was predeceased by her adoring and beloved husband, Robert F. Abby, who died in 1980.
Born in Newburyport, May 15, 1923, she was the only daughter of the late Lester G. and Elizabeth M. (Nelson) Small. After graduating from Newburyport High School in 1940, she went on to receive her nursing degree from the Henry Heywood Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in Gardner, Mass. She proudly served with the United States Army Nurses Corps with the rank of 1st Lieutenant from April 27, 1945 until her discharge on March 9, 1948, at which time she continued to serve with the Officers' Reserve Corps for an additional five years. It was during her military service that she met her future husband who served in the US Army for 25 years during World War II and the Korean and Vietnam conflicts.
After her years with the military where she served in military hospitals stateside caring for returning wounded soldiers from World War II, Eleanor continued her nursing career, working at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston, VA hospitals and various military base hospitals where her husband was stationed and then the Anna Jaques Hospital, where she retired in 1985 after 25 years of dedicated service.
Eleanor was proud of being a 60+ year member of the Daughters of The American Revolution, and lifelong member of Saint Paul's Episcopal Church, where she served on the Altar Guild as well as several other church organizations. As her daughters were growing up, she enjoyed her years as a scout leader and supported her four daughters as a leader in their various activities.
Her whole life centered around caring for others, from her own family, to friends, to her lifetime commitment as a nurse. In the last years of her life, she became the recipient of this loving care at her home by her daughters, as well as by her devoted and loving caretakers, Maureen Harris, Michelle Sneider, Martha Owich, the late Michele Craig, and Marylou Newton, who faithfully came every week to make sure her hair was beautifully coiffed. They all treated her like their own mother.
She leaves behind the memories of a life lived with devotion and caring for others to her three daughters, Elizabeth S. Abby Stearns, Judith S. Abby and Virginia M. Abby all of Newburyport, along with several generations of nieces, nephews, cousins, extended family members and many acquaintances and friends. She was predeceased by her daughter, Cynthia J. Abby; son-in-law, William L.Stearns; brother and his wife, Robert G. and Audrey Small; and her aunt, May A. Nelson. Everyone she has left behind will forever be grateful for the gift of her life!
Visiting hours will be Friday, December 22, 2017 from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Elliott, Woodworth & Rogers Family Funeral Home, 35 Green Street, Newburyport. Funeral Services will be held Saturday, December 23, 2017 at 1 p.m. at St Paul's Episcopal Church, 166 High Street, Newburyport, followed by burial in Oak Hill Cemetery, where she will be eternally reunited with her husband, Robert, and her daughter, Cynthia. Donations in her memory may be made to Anna Jaques Community Health Foundation, 25 Highland Avenue, Newburyport, MA 01950 or to St. Paul's Episcopal Church Memorial Fund, 166 High Street, Newburyport, MA 01950.
Published on December 19, 2017
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