When Shenandoah University officially celebrated the nursing program’s 50-year anniversary on Oct. 5, it announced that the Division of Nursing was officially named the “Eleanor Wade Custer School of Nursing.” Associate Professor Kathryn Ganske, Ph.D., R.N., serves as dean of the school.
Eleanor Wade Custer was a tireless supporter of nursing. She graduated from the Johns Hopkins Hospital School of Nursing and the Francis Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University. Custer worked at both Johns Hopkins and the Cleveland Visiting Nurses Association, and from 1935 to 1940, she served as health supervisor for the Cleveland Humane Society.
During World War II, Custer led Army and Navy nurse recruitment for the Armed Services Fifth Service Command. At that time, she volunteered for night duty in pediatric hospitals. From 1945 to 1948, she followed her interest in pediatric nursing by serving as administrator of the Rainbow Children’s Hospital in Cleveland. Custer also worked for the Family Health Association in Cleveland until her 1965 retirement.
Custer and her brother, Winchester surgeon and Shenandoah University Trustee Monford Custer, were instrumental in bringing new visibility and recognition to Shenandoah’s nursing program at the time the John Kerr Building was renovated in 1983. That year, the Eleanor Wade Custer Nursing Center was dedicated in her honor.
Throughout the next two decades, Custer was generous with both advice and financial support including the establishment of the Eleanor Wade Custer Nursing Endowment and the Eleanor Wade Custer Lecture Series in Nursing. Custer died in February of 1997.