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Blanche Witherell Ambrose, 103, founder of CFCC’s nursing program

Blanche Witherell Ambrose
Blanche Witherell Ambrose

Blanche Witherell Ambrose, 103, of Wilmington, passed away at Spring Arbor of Wilmington on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016.

She was born in Lynn, Massachusetts on May 14, 1912, daughter of the late Leon F. Witherell and Eunice May Peterson Witherell.

Blanche had a long and full life. She was blessed with a strong constitution and a good mind that lasted well into her one hundred and third year.

Graduating from Bridgeport School of Nursing in Connecticut and Boston University School of Nursing in 1936, she engaged in private duty and hospital nursing. Coming to Wilmington, she and her husband Ralph supported and raised their family of three children. She worked as a registered nurse in both Cape Fear and New Hanover Memorial hospitals.

In her early fifties, she undertook the creation of a Practical Nursing Program at Cape Fear Technical Institute, now Cape Fear Community College. Many long hours were spent in preparation and planning to provide her classes of 15 students, not all of them young, with classroom instruction and hands-on practice at Babies Hospital, James Walker Memorial Hospital, Cape Fear Hospital and New Hanover Memorial Hospital.

She inspired them with the confidence to work beside other health professionals and, above all, provide competent care to patients. For 13 years, under her direction, her school’s reputation for high standards and quality of patient care insured that her students could easily find employment after graduation.

Years later, she would receive heartfelt thanks from past students for helping them become self-sufficient citizens in their own right and, in turn, positive role models in their own families. She was loved and respected by all her students. This was her greatest legacy. CFCC will celebrate the 50th year of its nursing program this May.

After retirement, excellent health allowed her beloved husband, Ralph, and herself to travel, visit friends and to immerse herself in religious study and church activities. She was always busy and delighted in meeting new people. Her friends ranged from old school mates to those she met in her church, daily life and many travels. The strength of those friendships was maintained through her faithful correspondence, initially handwritten, then later by telephone and even email.

She loved to write letters and looked forward to hearing back from her family and friends. Her Christmas card list at its peak seemed endless. Each card always included at least a personal line or two. Mrs. Ambrose was a member of Masonboro Baptist Church.

Surviving are two sons, Peter W. Ambrose (Vicki) of Burlington and Wallace W. Ambrose (Jeannie) of Pittsboro; a daughter, Susan A. Turner of Wilmington; a grandson, Steven M. Ambrose of Burlington; a granddaughter, Rebecca Ellen Ambrose of Baltimore, Maryland; and great-grandchildren, Trinity Kathryn Ambrose, Sean Michael Ambrose, and Alyssa Renee Ambrose of Burlington.

In addition to her parents, she was preceded in death by her husband, Ralph E. Ambrose, and a son-in-law, Tim Turner.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 5 at Masonboro Baptist Church, 1501 Beasley Road, Wilmington, NC, with Dr. Gordon Wright and Mr. Larry Knowles officiating. Interment will follow in the church cemetery. The family will receive friends at the church from 10 a.m. until the service hour.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made Lower Cape Fear Hospice, 1414 Physicians Drive, Wilmington, NC, or Masonboro Baptist Church Building Fund, 1501 Beasley Road, Wilmington, NC 28409.

Please leave online condolences for the family at Andrews Mortuary.

To view the full list of Port City Daily obituaries, click here.

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