Ethel Huie McNair, 89, a nurse, guidance counselor, and church leader who lived in Yeadon, died Dec. 8 of heart failure at her daughter's home in Williamsport, Pa.

Mrs. McNair came from a religious family, and she followed its example.

Her parents, Arthur and Adina Huie, were active members of Allen African Methodist Episcopal Church in West Philadelphia.

Mrs. McNair, or "Mother McNair," as she was known in the church, was an A.M.E. leader in Philadelphia and held offices with the Connectional Women's Missionary Society.

As a missionary, she coordinated church activities in Philadelphia and abroad.

She was honored in Swaziland, in southern Africa, and "robed," or given elevated status, as an outstanding missionary worker in 1996.

She also was given the honorary title of "life member" of the Women's Missionary Society in 1985.

Raised in South Philadelphia, she attended Philadelphia public schools. She earned a nursing degree from the Mercy School of Nursing in the 1940s and a bachelor's degree in sociology from Wilberforce University in 1952.

She later earned a master's degree in education from Temple University.

While at Wilberforce in Ohio, she met and married her husband, the Rev. Dr. Luther McNair. Their church work and a love of travel took them to Africa, the Far East, Europe, and the Caribbean, as well as across the United States. He died in 1993.

Her grandson, Dyon McNair, said she kept in touch with people to whom she had ministered, here and in Africa.

Mrs. McNair was one of the first African American registered nurses to be employed at Graduate Hospital and Einstein Medical Center, said her grandson.

She switched careers in 1964, and served for 23 years as a guidance counselor at Dimner Beeber Junior High School, now Beeber Middle School, her grandson said. She retired in 1987.

Surviving in addition to her grandson is a son, Lester Franklin; a daughter, Susan Rebecca McNair Martin; a granddaughter; a brother; and many nieces and nephews.

A 5 p.m. viewing on Friday, Dec. 17, will be followed by 6 p.m. funeral services at Hickman Temple A.M.E. Church, 5001 Baltimore Ave., West Philadelphia. Burial will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, at Mount Lawn Cemetery, Sharon Hill.

Contact staff writer Bonnie L. Cook at 610-313-8232 or bcook@phillynews.com.