As a career nurse, Elner Mann worked in hospitals, doctors’ offices, and as a night nurse for a trucking company, where she once saved the life of a stricken man. A 1956 newspaper story recounts her administering first aid to a reckless driver and his passenger.
“I loved taking care of people,” she says.
Elner, known as Ellie by her friends, is a Homeland Center personal care resident who praises the staff and says her family feels better knowing she’s in good hands.
Born on a farm in the Wilkes-Barre area of Conyngham Township, her family later moved to West Pittston along the Susquehanna River, and her father worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad.
At G.A.R. Memorial Junior/Senior High School, Elner was active in organizing dances, including the annual “Grenadier Gambol” held in the girls’ gym. She also sang in her church choir and met her future husband, Kenneth, through church youth activities.
While Kenneth served in the Army, Elner entered the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital School of Nursing: “It was a challenge, but it was a good experience.’’
Elner and Ken married in 1956, after he served as a sergeant in the Korean War. On that day in March, a newspaper story about her wedding reported that she was “attired in a ballerina-length gown of Chantilly lace and nylon tulle over satin.”
The young couple started their family of four kids in Wilkes-Barre. They enjoyed boating and visiting local lakes, including the popular Harveys Lake. Elner worked nights in various health care settings and served on the local chapter of Tau Phi Lambda Sorority, where she was elected state president.
Around 1964, the family moved to the Harrisburg area, where Ken was sales manager for General Motors Acceptance Corp. and vice president of Titus Leasing Co.
Elner continued her nursing career, eventually working in the state Capitol doctor’s office, providing health care for members and staff of the state House and Senate. She and the friend and colleague she shared nursing duties with got the call the day that state Treasurer Budd Dwyer committed suicide in front of a room full of reporters. Unfortunately, there was nothing they could do.
The Mann family lived in the Harrisburg suburb of Paxtang, where the kids could play in open fields, and everything – schools, stores, restaurants – was within walking distance. Ken served as Paxtang Borough Council president.
After Elner retired, she and Ken bought a home in a Sarasota, Florida, retirement community. They would live there from January to May, escaping the cold of Pennsylvania and returning in the spring.
“It had all the amenities you’d want – pool, clubhouse, on and on and on,” she remembers. “It was a good place.”
Ken died in 2000, and Elner came to Homeland after a 2021 health crisis. As a lifetime needleworker, she enjoys Homeland’s arts and crafts classes and has a drawing she did of a hummingbird in her room.
She lives in a spacious personal-care suite, surrounded by pictures of her great-grandchildren, who currently number five with another on the way.
“I couldn’t ask for a better place,” Elner says, adding that she enjoys Homeland’s food, especially the desserts. “They take good care of you. I think it’s a relief to all families to know that everything’s taken care of. I’m certainly comfortable.’’