LuAnn and Norma L. Gerlach Nursing Scholarship
LuAnn Gerlach was born on October 26, 1945, at Nissen Hospital in Osage, Iowa, the daughter of Gene W. and Norma L. (Rosel) Gerlach, of St. Ansgar, Iowa. She had one brother, Gary G. Gerlach, who later moved to Washington, D.C., and had gone on to be a lawyer and president of a printing company. LuAnn idolized her brother and was very proud of his accomplishments, saying he was a “tough act to follow.”
LuAnn was a leader starting at a young age and known for her friendly demeanor. Friends and family say she was a very compassionate, caring, loving, and a fun woman—gifted with many talents, but at the same time, very humble.
Following her graduation from St. Ansgar High School, she enrolled in the University of Iowa College of Nursing. She was member of Pi Beta Phi sorority and served as the sorority’s house manager and recruitment chairman. She was elected to the university’s campus-wide central party committee her junior year. LuAnn’s infectious personality and compassion for others made nursing an obvious career choice. But in the summer of 1965, a terrible biking accident altered the course of her life.
That summer, LuAnn worked for the Yellowstone National Park. In July, while riding her bicycle in the park, she was run off the road by a car, hit a tree, and severely broke her collarbone. A few months later, she was diagnosed with a rare and incurable blood cancer—a type of leukemia. Her father, Gene, was convinced that the x-rays taken after the accident had triggered the illness.
LuAnn was only 20-years-old when she died of the disease on December 9, 1965 in Iowa City. Her illness was only the seventh such case of the disease in medical history at the time.
To honor her memory, LuAnn’s parents and brother established the LuAnn and Normal L. Gerlach Memorial Nursing Scholarship to benefit a deserving undergraduate student in the UI College of Nursing.
Congratulations on receiving the LuAnn and Norma L. Gerlach Nursing Scholarship