Joan Kelly Beele, 61, of Springfield, Delaware County, who fulfilled her childhood dream of becoming a nurse, died Thursday, Nov. 26, of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis at home.
As a girl in West Philadelphia and then Havertown, Mrs. Beele received medical treatment at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. The experience instilled in her the desire to take up nursing.
She trained at Philadelphia General Hospital School of Nursing in West Philadelphia and graduated in 1975. "She was intensely proud of her time there and spoke of it often," her family said.
Mrs. Beele's first job was in intensive care at Haverford Hospital in Havertown, where she developed an interest in emergency medicine and trauma care. She then took a job with Delaware County Childcare at the Children's Cottage in Media, a facility for youth.
In 1978, Mrs. Beele left the cottage for her "dream job" in the emergency room at Lankenau Hospital in Wynnewood. She worked there for 20 years.
Before she became ill, Mrs. Beele worked at the Chateau in Bryn Mawr and Forwood Manor in Wilmington, and as a nurse and administrator at St. Ignatius Nursing & Rehab Center in West Philadelphia. She considered the latter a second home, she told family.
"In long-term care, she discovered her true calling," her family said. "She found caring for the elderly deeply rewarding, in particular the spiritual aspects of end-of-life care."
In 2013, she noticed changes in her speech and sought medical attention. Doctors diagnosed ALS, and the disease progressed quickly, her family said.
Mrs. Beele met David J. Beele Sr., a social worker, when both worked at the Children's Cottage. They married in 1979, bought a house in Springfield, and raised two children. He died in 2010.
Outside nursing, Mrs. Beele liked spending time on the back patio with her rescue dog, Maggie. She engaged in water aerobics and volleyball with senior friends, and enjoyed traveling the world.
She is survived by a son, David Jr.; a daughter, Kathryn P. Lannan; two brothers; two sisters; and nieces and nephews.
A 9:30 a.m. visitation Friday, Dec. 4, is to be followed by a 10:30 Funeral Mass at Holy Cross Church, 651 E. Springfield Rd., Springfield. Interment is in SS. Peter and Paul Cemetery.
Contributions may be made to Children's Hospital, Social Work and Spiritual Care Dept., 3401 Civic Center Blvd., Philadelphia 19104, or St. Ignatius Nursing & Rehab Center, 4401 Haverford Ave., Philadelphia 19104.