Connie Werner died on Sunday morning, June 8th, shortly before 8:00 o'clock. A victim of Lou Gehrig's disease, she was seventy-one years old.
Although not the first midwife in this area, she was the first in Tompkins County to work within the medical community, having been employed last by OB-GYN of Ithaca, NY. After resigning her privileges at Cayuga Medical Center she could look back on more than fifteen hundred deliveries.
Connie came to this area in the early 1960's with three children and her husband, who was for three and a half years minister of the First Unitarian Society of Ithaca which he left in September of 1965, being uncertain whether or not to continue in the ministry.
As a registered nurse working at first in the delivery room, she became a mainstay of her family. After some years in the delivery room she was drawn to the office of Dr. Noah Kassman under whom she went on to become a nurse practitioner, traveling to Syracuse for training twice a week.
It was also under Dr. Kassman that she reached an agreement with him to take a year off for midwifery training at Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn. Unfortunately, during that same school year Dr. Kassman died suddenly (on May 1st, 1983.) Connie continued in Brooklyn where her husband did secretarial work in the Brooklyn federal parole office, and on returning home to Trumansburg she was accepted into the practice of Dr. O. H. Kyong to whom her family owe a debt of gratitude.
Born on November 5, 1931, in Passaic, NJ, where her family lived because of her father's profession as an electrical engineer, she traced her truest family origins to Danville, PA, and its environs. Both branches of her family came from that region, Donald Diehl, her father. being the son of a prospering farmer. Her mother. Helen Dark, was a country school teacher. only much later earning her master's degree. The family were Lutheran and actively religious.
Connie's personal qualities, which made her such an endearing woman, included an invariable kindliness and gentleness of manner. She was a woman of swift intelligence, playful humor, and had always a strong sense of propriety and modesty. By nature she was shy and yet in midwifery, especially during deliveries, she was decisive, energetic, and thoroughly applied to the task in hand.
She is survived by her husband and four children: Helen Cox a prize-winning school librarian; Shirley Werner, a former classics professor who lives now with her husband, William Johnson, a classicist at Cincinnati University; a son, Dr. Thomas Werner, a linguistics scholar, husband of professor Mandy Simons in Pittsburgh; and a third daughter, Lois Gallegos, recently moved from Colorado to teach in Salamanca, NY. She is survived also by siblings, grandchildren, and cousins.
Her mortal remains have been cremated under the auspices of the Ness-Sibley
funeral home of Trumansburg. (See for a copy of this obituary the internet site:
www.Ness-Sibley.com.) A memorial service is planned for Wednesday, July 9, in
the First Unitarian Church of Ithaca at four o'clock.
For additional information, the funeral home may also be contacted by calling 1-888-534-5446.Page submitted by: Joseph L. Sibley