Kathryn Jean (Purintun) Andress


Posted: Friday, December 14, 2001

Kenai resident Kathryn Jean (Purintun) Andress died Thursday, Dec. 6, 2001, from complications awaiting a stem cell transplant at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. She was 55.

Visitation was Thursday. Services will be at 4 p.m. today at the First Congregational Church, 2610 East Northern Lights Blvd., Anchorage. Family will receive friends at the Little Italy Restaurant, 2300 East 88th St., Anchorage, following the services.

Mrs. Andress was born May 27, 1946, in Hartley, Iowa. She married Gus Andress of Shenandoah, Iowa, on May 11, 1988.

She had a distinguished career in nursing. She received her diploma in nursing from Allen Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in Iowa in 1967 and her bachelor's degree in health sciences from California State University. She began her career as head nurse of the transplant unit at the University of Minnesota Hospital in Minneapolis, where she assisted with its first bone marrow and pancreas transplants.

After moving to California in 1970, she worked in the intensive care unit at Long Beach Community Hospital and at St. Mary's-Bauer Hospital.

In 1978, she and Gus moved to Anchorage, where she worked as a staff nurse at Providence Alaska Medical Center. During her 19 years at Providence, she worked as an assistant nurse manager in ICU and as dialysis coordinator. She also worked as an on-call nurse for patient transport and played a vital role in professional and community education.

In 1987, she started and developed the Organ Donor Program of Alaska with doctors Thomas Wood and Steven Tucker. With the help of many dedicated Alaskans, this program saved many lives.

She was a certified nephrology nurse, certified hemodialysis nurse and a certified critical care nurse. She was a member of the American Nephrology Nurses Association serving as vice president, president and founding member of the Alaska chapter. In 1986-87, she was honored in Who's Who of American Nursing. She also served as vice president and president of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses. In 1989, she received the AACN Innovative Award. She was an active member of Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.

Mrs. Andress retired from nursing in 1997, moved to Kenai and joined her husband in their two family businesses.

"She absolutely loved the splendor of Alaska. She adored the moose, enjoyed kayaking, camping and hiking, and loved flowers, gardening and sewing. She and her husband spent many wonderful times at their cabin on Caribou Island in Skilak Lake listening to the call of the loons," her family said.

"She saw beauty in everything and everyone. Kathy had a special gift that allowed her to reach the heart and soul of all she met. She had a laugh and a spirit that could light up a room. With her gentle, sweet and loving personality and positive attitude, she was loved and admired by all who knew her. She will be greatly missed."

Mrs. Andress was preceded in death by her parents, Pearl Eleanor Purintun Messerer and Paul Martin Purintun; infant brother, Roger Charles Purintun; and stepfather, Fred Michael Messerer.

She is survived by her husband, Gus; sister and brother-in-law Harveta and John B. Rockwell Jr. of Champlin, Minn.; nieces and nephews-in-law Joanne and James P. Rice III of Cottage Grove, Minn., and Layna and Benjamin Peltier of Arlington, Va.; nephew Jonathan Jay Rockwell of Brooklyn Park, Minn.; and many close friends.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the National Foundation for Transplants in the name of Kathy Andress, P.O. Box 212215, Anchorage, AK 99521-2215. Also, donations may be made online at www.transplants.org/index.htm. Click the upper right hand corner for "Secure Online Donations" and choose her name.

Arrangements were made by Witzleben Family Funeral Homes and Crematory.

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