Nursing the Next Generation

When Deb Henretta’s mother died, so many people showed up for her funeral in Rochester, N.Y., that police were needed to direct the nearly 1,000 visitors who came to pay their respects.

The woman known for sending cards to everyone on their birthdays had left a legacy of friends, family and colleagues who came to pay their respects to the nurse who inspired so many through her passion for nursing.

But Carol Bieck Henretta was no typical nurse—especially for her era. She went beyond the basics of earning her RN certification, adding a master’s and a doctorate and serving as a nurse, nurse educator and nursing professor at the University of Rochester in a career that spanned 40 years.

“Her role was not just as a scholar but also as a practitioner and a leader of nursing,” Henretta says.

 That history of the nursing school and (Dean Paul Gore’s) commitment to make it a signature program is what influenced us to support it.

In honor of her mother, Henretta and her husband, Sean Murray, have set up the Carol B. Henretta Nursing Scholarship to benefit Xavier nursing students. But because her mother was a nurse educator and a leader, Henretta says the scholarship will reward those aspiring nursing students with financial need who also have a talent for leadership.

“We think the scholarship can go to an individual who shows leadership in those areas and is not just book smart,” she says. “It was the practitioner care that made my mom special as it relates to nursing.”

Her mother is perhaps best known for developing the program to educate doctors, nurses and parents about how to protect babies from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, known as SIDS, back in 1977. She later joined the nursing faculty to promote nursing education, and also served as assistant dean and director of admissions for the school.

After retiring in 1997, she continued to support the University of Rochester and her community with countless volunteer hours. Carol Henretta died in February 2016. She was 79.

Helping nursing students thrive at Xavier is a natural next step for Deb Henretta and her family, who have considerable ties to the University: They’re former parishioners of Bellarmine Parish, her husband earned a master’s at Xavier, and their daughter is a pre-med major. And Henretta, a retired Procter & Gamble marketing executive, has served on the advisory panel and as a mentor for the Williams College of Business and is now a member of the University Board of Trustees.

So when she learned of the School of Nursing’s newest programs to make nursing education available to more students, she realized her family could support nursing education and honor her mother—all at the same time.

“That history of the nursing school and (Dean Paul Gore’s) commitment to make it a signature program is what influenced us to support it,” she says.

Learn more about GIVING TO XAVIER.