Petronella Vandrovec Furgeson died on Sunday, June 16, 2019, surrounded by her loving family. Mass of Christian Burial will be Tuesday, June 25, at 10 am at St. Mary’s Church of the Assumption, 1401 Washington Avenue, Waco, Texas. Visitation will be at OakCrest Funeral Home on Monday, June 24, from 6 to 8 pm with rosary at 7 pm, and time to share remembrances starting at 7:30 pm.
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Petronella was born in Rogers, North Dakota, August 17, 1922, to Anton Albert and Marie Sokol Vandrovec, Czech immigrants from Bohemia and Moravia. She and her three brothers and sister were born and raised on the farm that her paternal grandparents homesteaded in 1886. She was always very proud of her Czech heritage and later took daughters and grandchildren to her parents’ birthplaces.
At age eighteen, against her father's wishes, she bravely enrolled in Mercy Hospital School of Nursing in Valley City, North Dakota, graduating in 1943. Her nursing career was long and varied, including appointments in Oregon, California, and Texas. She cared for patients from the beginning of their lives in the delivery room, all ages in the emergency room, and at the end of life when she went to be with many relatives with terminal illnesses. She also cared gently and compassionately for the mentally ill. Her patients, co-workers, and employers all benefited greatly from her skill and selfless service.
From 1959 to 1987, she worked at Hillcrest Hospital in Waco, ending her career as director of surgery. Always a strong advocate for surgery nurses, she trained and inspired many who went on to rewarding and successful careers. She contributed generously to her field, including the presidency of the Central Texas Association of Operating Room Nurses.
Petronella was a wonderfully loving wife, mother, aunt, grandmother, great-grandmother, and friend. She married Eldon Furgeson in Pasadena, California, on December 18, 1947. Through sickness and health, their happy union lasted fifty-six years until his death in 2003. She is survived by her three daughters and their families: Claire Burton, husband Ken, and their children, Amy Kayali, husband Serkan, Andrea Guajardo, husband Daniel, Matt, and Mark; Laurie Hart, husband Steve, and children Josie, Molly, and Ethan; and Theresa McClellan, husband Ian, and children Adam, Nellie, and Maureen; four great-grandchildren; Ziva, Daniel, Kaya, and Abraham; many cherished nieces and nephews, and a dear sister-in-law, Irene Vandrovec.
Petronella greatly enjoyed cooking and sharing the fruits of her labor with others; cookies, strudel, and mashed potatoes were some of her specialties. She channeled her vast creative talents into sewing, painting, and crafts of all kinds. Even as a working mother and breadwinner, she led Camp Fire Girls groups in service projects and on trips. She loved traveling and visited all fifty states. A dedicated Baylor fan, she always watched the games with a rosary in her hands, praying fervently for the Bears' victory. In 2017, she was named a Baylor Alumna by Choice.
Petronella was a treasure to the world and special to the lives she touched. Many were enriched by her unconditional love, intense loyalty, and deep and enduring religious faith. She was a steady rock in times of trouble and a sweet angel in times of need. She will be remembered for her generous heart, boundless energy, and remarkable courage. Her legacy is a love that lives on in all who knew her. Her advice to all who would aspire to live as she did is to make faith, family, and friends your priorities.
The family deeply appreciates the loving care Petronella received from Stoney Brook Assisted Living staff and is grateful for all the love extended to her and prayers offered on her behalf, especially in her last years. You are invited to share a memory at www.oakcrestwaco.com Memorials can be made to St. Mary’s Church Homeless Ministry, 1401 Washington Ave., Waco, Texas, 76701.