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Labor nurse delivered help to poor in Africa

| Friday, Aug. 22, 2008

For a nurse who was raised in a devout Church of the Brethren family, Carol Burnett's missionary trips to Africa were part of her Christian commitments.

"Carol and I traveled to Uganda as volunteers of Christ Church's Encounter Uganda team," said her husband, Allen Burnett.

Carol Ann Burnett of Monroeville, a labor and delivery nurse at Forbes Regional Hospital in Monroeville, died of ovarian cancer Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2008, in Forbes Hospice, Oakland. She was 62.

"I went along with Carol on her first trip to Uganda in 1999," her husband said of the volunteer work through the nondenominational congregation based in Sewickley. "It was a medical assessment trip for Encounter Uganda. What really touched us was the attitude of the Ugandans. They were dirt poor, but joyful.

"During her next two trips, Carol assisted an international team of doctors and nurses in inoculations and in treating natives who didn't require hospitalization," he added.

Her devotion to reaching out to those who were ill and hurting began when she was growing up in Bryan, Ohio, one of three children in the family of Elner and the late Mary Van Pelt.

"From the time Carol was a little girl, she said she felt that becoming a nurse would fill her desire to serve her faith in a meaningful profession," said her husband.

"Carol played the piano at her church and while she was attending Bryan High School, she played the trumpet in the school's marching band and sang with the school choir," Burnett said.

In 1964, after graduating from high school, she enrolled in Manchester College in Indiana, where she met Allen Burnett, a resident of Anderson, Ind.

Prior to arriving in Pittsburgh, where her husband was employed by the nuclear services division of Westinghouse Electric Corp., Mrs. Burnett received her nursing diploma from the Lutheran Hospital School of Nursing in Fort Wayne, Ind.

"Carol first worked at Citizens General Hospital in New Kensington before she joined Forbes Regional Hospital in Monroeville," said Burnett.

"In her work as a nurse, Carol felt she was performing a vital service by being with the women who were about to give birth.

"I was told by women who Carol saw through the delivery of how patient she was," Burnett added. "She saw these women through delivery on a one-to-one basis."

In addition to her husband and father, Mrs. Burnett is survived by her children, Andrea Burnett of Monroeville, Joel Burnett of Penn Hills, Joshua Burnett of Massachusetts and Sarah Burnett of Silver Spring, Md.; and two grandchildren.

She also is survived by a brother, Larry Van Pelt of Indiana and sister, Lynda Dietsch of Ohio.

Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. today at Soxman Funeral Homes Roth Chapel, 7450 Saltsburg Road, Penn Hills.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at noon Saturday in the Church of the Ascension, Neville Street and Ellsworth Avenue, Oakland.

Interment will be in Plum Creek Cemetery, Plum.

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