Janette Lillian Packer, 84, formerly of Bryn Mawr, a nurse who made her life's work the education of other nurses, died Feb. 25, of cancer at White Horse Village in Newtown Square, where she had lived for  five years.

Janette Lillian Packer
Courtesy of the family
Janette Lillian Packer

A native of Great Britain, Dr. Packer began her nurse's training at age 16 at what is now Moorfields Eye Hospital. She was a nursing-school graduate of Charing Cross Hospital. Both are in London.

After coming to the United States in 1955, she found work as a nurse at Cooper Hospital in Camden and, at the same time, completed the requirements there to become a registered nurse. In 1957, she moved to Temple University Hospital and earned a bachelor of science in education at Temple University.

In 1967, she earned a master of science in nursing from the University of Pennsylvania, and a doctorate in education from Temple in 1972.

That same year, Dr. Packer was appointed an assistant professor of nursing at Penn, and she was promoted to associate professor in 1974. She was affiliated with Penn's Graduate School of Education, for which she created a doctoral degree program in nursing.

Dr. Packer, who was known as "Jane" or "Jan," did a lot of thinking about how best to prepare young academics for careers as college teachers in nursing.

In February 1977, she wrote an essay in the Penn Almanac: "We have been too willing to hide behind the idea that teaching is difficult to define and to measure. Instead of sharing our knowledge of good teaching and pursuing ways to make that knowledge more accessible, we tend to persuade ourselves that the need does not really exist.

"Penn …  has long needed mechanisms whereby prospective teachers, graduate assistants, and in-service college teachers could meet to discuss efficient methods of teaching and evaluating students, share their problems and successes, and find out about new techniques. From this, new teachers could make choices about teaching rather than teach as they were taught or spend time searching for different ways."

She felt so strongly that she arranged for a seminar to be offered on the topic in the spring of 1977.

In 1978, Dr. Packer became dean of the nursing school at Widener University, where she again worked on creating a doctorate-level nursing degree program. She retired in 1998 at age 65.

Dr. Packer was active in the Pennsylvania State Board of Nurse Examiners. She was a member of Sigma Theta Tau and Phi Kappa Phi.

Born in 1933, Dr. Packer was just reaching her teens as World War II began. Since London was being bombed by the Nazis, she and other children were evacuated to Devonshire, where they lived with families willing to take them in.

Dr. Packer told her wife that although her schooling was interrupted, she learned how to crawl under fences and poach rabbits.

The missed classes caught up with her when she was at Temple, completing her bachelor of science degree. "She had to stop and take the GED. It was one of those funny little things in life,"  Ursula Siebeneich said.

She and Siebeneich met in 2003 at an exercise class at the Wayne Senior Center and married in 2015.

A very curious person, Dr. Packer liked to take things apart to see how they worked. That sometimes backfired when she couldn't get the gadgets back together again.

Dr. Packer enjoyed gardening, playing golf, driving "good" cars, and riding her motorcycle during the gas shortage of 1972 and 1973. She also played tennis and body surfed the waves for hours off Florida's Atlantic coast.

Six years ago, Dr. Packer told Siebeneich she had never flown a kite. Off the two went to Lewes, Del., to fly a diamond-shaped kite. "There was not a breath of wind," Siebeneich said.

The couple tried other types before finally settling on a Revolution sport kite, which is six feet long and has four handles. "They take off and move," Siebeneich said. "I had to hang onto Jan so she wouldn't go flying off into the wind."

In addition to her wife, Dr. Packer is survived by close friends Sheryl and Jan Somerville, whom she considered her American family; two nephews; and a large extended family on both sides of the Atlantic.

At her request, there will be no services. Burial is private.

Memorial donations may be made to SPIN, Inc., or Special People in Northeast, 10521 Drummond Rd., Philadelphia, Pa. 19154. The nonprofit provides services to those with autism and developmental disabilities, and their families.