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Obituary: Dr. Luther Parmalee Christman

Friday, June 10, 2011

Dr. Luther Parmalee Christman, 96, of Chapel Hill, died Tuesday, June 7, 2011, in Nashville.

Mr. Christman was born in Summit Hill, Pa. and was a son of the late Elmer and Elizabeth Barnicoat Christman.

Dr. Christman's pioneering and enduring legacy in the profession of nursing passed into history at Vanderbilt University Hospital on June 7. Dr. Christman was a tireless and articulate advocate for nurses and nursing throughout his career and, eventually, rose to the highest peaks of his profession. He served as an inspirational role model for male nurses in a career choice with few men at the beginning of his career. His influence helped open the field to men who were interested in nursing as an occupation.

Dr. Christman was the first male dean of a school of nursing in the country and served in various capacities from a psychiatric hospital floor nurse to Dean of Nursing at several major American universities. They included University of Michigan and Michigan State, Vanderbilt and Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center where he was its vice president as well as dean. His outspoken views on the field of nursing were enlightening and influential, not only in America, but all over the world. He lectured in Turkey, Japan and Sweden, among other places.

Dr. Christman was a fellow of the Academy of Nursing and was considered an innovator of new models for nursing practice and training regimens. He favored baccalaureate and graduate education for nurses, primary care, nurse autonomy in practice, and clinical expertise and accountability. In 2004, he was inducted into the American Nurses Association's Hall of Fame. In 2007, the American Nurses Association began awarding a Luther Christman award to those who have furthered the cause of men in nursing.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Dorothy Mary Black Christman, who died in 2003, and by a granddaughter, Mary Lee Christman.

Dr. Christman is survived by his daughters, Judi Kinney and husband Tom Kinney of McFarland, Wis. and Lillian Christman and husband Hank Blakely of Reston, Va.; son, Gary Christman; grandchildren, Kelly Kinney and friend, Darren Feller, Lindsey Kinney and husband, Seth Hartwick, Nicholas Blakely; great-grandchildren, Bruce Paul Kinney Hartwick and Crystal Powell; four great-great-grandchildren; and caregivers, Cindy Burkett, Rhonda Dalton West, Margie Cheek, Sandy Shultz, Brittney Dalton, Annie Kelley, Megan Quann and Markela Cashion.

A Celebration of the Life of Mr. Christman will be conducted at 10 a.m. Friday, June 10, from the chapel of Lawrence Funeral Home with Ed Halloran speaking. Burial will follow in Swanson Cemetery in Chapel Hill.

Memorial Donations may be made to the Monroe Carrell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt or a charity of your choice.

Lawrence Funeral Home and Cremation Services is in charge of arrangements.