E. Deana Cross

June 27, 2018

TEMPLE TERRACE, FL/WEAVERVILLE – E. Deana Cross, Ph.D., age 86, of Temple Terrace, Florida, passed away peacefully Wednesday, June 27, 2018 at the home of her best friend, Paula Benway. Dr. Cross, born on January 17, 1932 in Weaverville, North Carolina was the youngest of five children born to Henry Grady and Mary Ollie Edwards Cross. Her parents were mountain people through and through and young Deana grew up an independent and determined girl. Deana’s early years were hard ones, as they were for all children of the Great Depression of the 1930s. She contracted a neuro-muscular condition that required her to walk with crutches in her mid-teens, and spent her last years in high school in and out of physical rehabilitation and an orthopedic hospital. Perhaps it was all that personal exposure to medical care that led her to become a nurse. Following graduation from Weaverville High School, Deana entered Grace Hospital School of Nursing, Morganton, North Carolina, graduating with a diploma in September 1956. It was there she met a young woman (Paula Kirby Benway) from nearby Lenoir, North Carolina, who would become her best friend for the rest of her life. Both remained at Grace the first year following graduation to teach Nursing Arts. Leaving her alma mater, she joined the staff at Mountain Home Veterans Administration Hospital, Johnson City, Tennessee where Ms. Cross worked as a staff nurse in surgery and psychiatry. With a desire to attain further education, she resigned and entered the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, completing a baccalaureate degree in 1962. After that she joined the nursing faculty at UNC. Two years later she left this position and moved to Atlanta, Georgia to complete a Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Nursing at Emory University. Following completion of her master’s degree, she returned to UNC School of Nursing as an assistant professor in the school of nursing. Later she entered the doctoral program in the UNC School of Public Health, graduating with a Ph.D. in Epidemiology. At this time Dr. Cross returned to the Veteran’s Administration Hospital, Lexington, Kentucky as one of the first nurses devoted to a position as a full-time nursing researcher. The following year, she was appointed to the position of Chief, Nursing Research Service Central Office, Washington, D.C. In late 1977, Dr. Cross’ career was cut short by a cardiovascular accident that resulted in a medical retirement. After retirement, she moved to Tampa, Florida to be close to her good friends, Robert and Paula Benway. Despite her physical limitations, Deana kept up her spirits and maintained a town home for over twenty years before moving into an independent living retirement facility. She enjoyed music, writing poetry and Bible studies, and traveled extensively throughout the U.S. and abroad with Paula and Bob. When she began needing a greater level of care this year, she moved to Paula Benway’s home, where she remained until her death. Throughout her life, Deana was a woman of faith, constantly striving to be a good Christian. Dr. Cross is survived by numerous nieces and nephews. Her funeral service will be held at 11:00 a.m. Monday, July 2, 2018 in the Chapel of West Funeral Home, 17 Merrimon Ave., Weaverville. Reverend Skip Gillikin will officiate. Burial will follow in West Memorial Park, Weaverville. The family will receive friends from 10:00 a.m. until service time. Those desiring to make a memorial contribution are encouraged to consider a charity of your choice. For those who desire, condolences may be offered to the family under Ms. Cross’ obituary at www.WestFamilyFuneralServices.com.
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