Preserving Our Past, Capitalizing on the Present, Embracing the Future

In Memory of
Norma Small, PhD, RN

1936 - 2015


LTC Norma Small retired from the Army Nurse Corps in 1978 and, like many others, began a new phase of life every bit as productive and beneficial as the previous one. Norma’s “second career” was in the newly-developing area of Faith Community Nursing. Following her death in 2015, this homage to her was written by Sharon Stanton, a former president of the Health Ministries Association, which Norma was instrumental in founding.

Norma heard about Parish Nursing and knew that this was her calling after serving 22 years in the Army Nurse Corps. She attended the second Westberg Parish Nurse Symposium and returned the following year with her pastor, Dr. Abigail Rian Evans. She presented the program which Dr. Evans had founded, the Health Ministries of Washington, DC. It was a multi-professional, multidenominational, agency/organization to promote health and wholeness through churches.


It was after this Symposium in 1989 that discussions began that culminated in the founding of the Health Ministries Association (HMA). Norma was one of the charter members. Since then she held many leadership and advisory positions in HMA and represented HMA at national meetings and organizations. Norma was steadfast in both her support to and belief in HMA, seeing it through its growth and development to be a mature organization that is recognized as a leader in the Faith-Health Movement. She also used one of her many talents to serve as the HMA Historian/Archivist for many years.


As the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies at the Georgetown University School of Nursing, Norma developed the first graduate program in Parish Nursing. This enabled her to maintain her Parish Nursing practice while mentoring graduate students. In 1998 she was instrumental in having Parish Nursing designated as a Nursing Specialty by the American Nurses Association. Also at that time HMA was designated as the professional organization representing Parish Nursing which led to the acceptance and publication of HMA’s Scope and Standards of Parish Nursing Practice that same year!


Following her retirement from Georgetown University she returned to her family homestead in Johnstown, PA,   She renovated one of the homes on the property where she continued teaching RNs in the quickly advancing specialty practice of “Parish Nursing.”  She further provided leadership to the Southwest Pennsylvania Chapter of HMA which hosted HMA’s 1998 National Conference in Pittsburgh, PA and also led the development of the Pennsylvania Laurel Mountains Chapter of HMA. 


Throughout her “retirement," Norma continued to be active as a national educational consultant and speaker in health ministry and faith community nursing.   She led through mentoring and witnessing to the gifts and talents she was given, understanding these were given to be shared with all she met along life’s journey.


Those who knew her embraced her as colleague, friend, sister and Spirit companion. This she lived out in leadership within service to her country, dedication to the aging population, commitment to exemplary nursing practice and loving faithfulness to her family. 


She knew her life as gift, her death as gift and her faith as fullness of Life.  Norma embraced creation as God’s loving presence, especially within her faithful pet friends Buddy and Rosebud, her beautiful Labradors.  Even in death she provided for Buddy to be resident pet within her beautiful home until he goes to meet her.


She moved through this life as servant and disciple of Jesus.  Truly our Loving God reached out and brought her home.  Norma will be missed by her loving brother, her cousins: Lori, John and Mary Lou, as well as her devoted friend, Buddy.  Those of us who knew her well will never lose sight of this small yet formidable woman, for she is Alive and still moving among us.


Norma was respected, admired and loved by all who knew her.  Sadly, Health Ministries Association and the entire faith-health movement lost this pioneering, visionary and faithful servant of God to cancer in July 2015, yet the light of her leadership will long guide us.


Written by: Sharon Stanton, MS, RN, HMA Member and former HMA President