Gail J. Petre, 85, formerly of Hagerstown, Cambridge, and Maugansville, MD, passed away on Monday, March 28, 2022 while a resident of Restore Health in Shippensburg, PA. She was born July 29, 1936, in Hagerstown to the late Silas Henry Petre and Beulah Elizabeth (Eshleman) Petre. She is survived by a niece, Teresa G. Pritchett, of Harrisonburg, VA; brother-in-law, W. Clifton Pritchett of Harrisonburg, VA; cousins and many friends. In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her sister, Velda P. Pritchett, and nephew, Jeffrey D. Pritchett.
Gail was a member of Saint John’s Episcopal Church in Hagerstown where she participated as a reader, an acolyte, and a lay eucharistic minister.
Gail graduated from Hagerstown High School in 1954 and from Washington County Hospital School of Nursing in 1957. She graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1961 and a Master of Science in Nursing in 1976. She held numerous positions in staffing and administration in medical/surgical, intensive care, emergency room, operating room, and dialysis at Washington County Hospital in Hagerstown, Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio; University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins Hospital, and Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore before returning to Washington County Hospital as the program director in several departments including nursing staff development, home health, community health and parish nursing.
A defining time in Gail’s professional career was serving as a clinical nurse and an educator for Project HOPE for a total of four years serving in Peru, Nicaragua, Columbia, and Egypt. Project HOPE forever shaped and influenced her personal and professional life.
Known as a hospital pioneer, Gail made the first two home health visits for Washington County Hospital on June 19, 1984. Starting with three employees, home health grew in staffing and visits, achieving many milestones during her 12 years of leadership. Meritus Home Health is still operating 38 years later.
In 1996, Gail started the Parish Nursing Program at Washington County Hospital, teaching registered nurses key concepts of parish nursing while serving individuals and families in their local churches and synagogues. Parish nursing 26 years later continues to bless local congregations of faith.
Gail was raised on a dairy farm and a member of 4-H. She was a Maryland 4-H All-Star in 1954, member of Sigma Theta Tau, Phi Kappa Phi, Washington County Hospital School of Nursing Alumni Association, Meritus Medical Center Auxiliary, and a Project HOPE Alumni.
Gail moved to Cambridge, MD, in 2004 and returned to Washington County in 2010. As a retiree, she taught English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and Medical Terminology in Washington County and Dorchester County.
Gail was an avid gardener and also enjoyed classical music, photography, reading, crafting, cooking, and baking. Her service with Project HOPE inspired her love for traveling to many foreign countries including a trip to Antarctica.
Gail’s furry friends, both dogs and cats, were special to her. Abby, a golden retriever, accompanied her regularly during pet therapy visits in Dorchester and Washington County. Her life-long love of dogs led her to being a donor of The Seeing Eye, an organization dedicated to training service dogs for visually impaired persons.
Gail donated her body to the Anatomy Board of Maryland for education and research. Interment will follow later in the Paradise Mennonite Church Cemetery. A Celebration of Life service will be held at Saint John’s Episcopal Church, 101 S. Prospect St, Hagerstown, MD, on Wednesday, June 8, 2022 at 2:00 pm. Refreshments will follow the service in Trimble Hall.
Memorial donations can be made “In Memory of Gail Petre” to The Seeing Eye, Inc., P.O. Box 375, Morristown, NJ 07963-0375; Project HOPE, 1220 19th St NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20036; or Saint John’s Episcopal Church, 101 S. Prospect St, Hagerstown, MD 21740. Online condolences accepted at www.osbornefuneralhome.net.
Osborne Funeral Home in Williamsport assisted with these arrangements.
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