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Scholarship series: Mary Elizabeth Dodson Conrad Healthcare Scholarship

Editor’s note: Each week, the Courier will be taking a look at local scholarships and the people they are named for.

By Sandi Scannelli
Clemmons Community Foundation

Remembering the life of someone you’ve loved and lost is an emotional rollercoaster ranging from deep sadness to warm smiles in the poignant memories and abiding gratitude for the values and wisdom learned. There is also a compelling desire to find a way to honor and remember a loved one forever. John and Angela Golden did just that when they lost Angela’s mother last year by creating the Mary Elizabeth “Liz” Dodson Conrad Scholarship in Healthcare with the Clemmons Community Foundation. The story of Liz’s life journey is an inspiration, especially after a year like 2020. It is a story of faith, perseverance, courage, strength, and an unwavering care for others beyond self.

Mary Elizabeth Dodson Conrad, affectionately known as Liz, was the youngest of 11 children, born May 2, 1930, in Alamance County to the late James and Mary Dodson. Liz, blessed with a servant heart, dropped out of high school to take care of her parents when they became ill. It was then that she discovered her “call” to the health care field. She obtained her GED and went to work in a Burlington sock mill to be able to pay her way through nursing school. In 1959, she married the love of her life, Arnold Gray “Doc” Conrad. Together they raised two children, Gray and Angela. Throughout her life, Liz shared her servant heart, always willing to help others. She was strong and independent and generously served her family, church, and community.

After nursing school graduation, she went to work with the Forsyth County Health Department until her husband, Doc, was seriously injured in a car accident in 1983, leaving him wheelchair-bound. She retired from public health nursing and became his private nurse and caretaker, faithfully and tirelessly caring for his every need, day and night until he passed in 2009. Liz and Doc tragically lost their son, Gray, in an industrial accident in 1985. He was in his early 20s and his wife, Jennie, was nine months pregnant with their first child. Jennie named her son Gray after the father he never had the chance to meet. It was one of the many deep valleys that Liz and Doc journeyed through. Their deep and abiding faith again provided strength and comfort through such a horrific loss.   

Liz Conrad courageously persevered through more heartbreak and tragedy than most will ever know. Her faith gave her strength. Her heart and compassion for others inspired her joy.   

Liz and Doc were members of Olivet Moravian Church and Liz served on the Board of Elders (the spiritual leaders of the church). With a special understanding and compassion for those who were suffering, Liz always prepared an extraordinary amount of food for the families. Gracious in hospitality, she warmly received all visitors with a piece of cake or other treat and a 6 oz. Coke. Liz found delight in her children’s growing families, including three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Always positive, always humble, always other-centered. She preferred to forgo her own needs to be able to help others. In her last few years, Liz battled cancer, which ultimately took her life on Mother’s Day, May 10, 2020.

Liz touched many lives in simple, caring ways that illustrated her heart and compassion for others in need. Her story bears repeating as we look to put 2020 in perspective. Liz Conrad was an example for others. Her values live on in her family as illustrated in John and Angela Golden’s decision to establish a healthcare scholarship of up to $2,500 in her name. John commented “Liz devoted her life to serving others even if that meant personal sacrifice. Our hope is that those who receive this scholarship will be encouraged, inspired, and better able to achieve their calling to help others.” And perhaps Liz Conrad’s enduring strength and perseverance will offer encouragement to students when their struggles seem insurmountable.

Students interested in the scholarship can apply online at ccf.gives/conrad. The deadline for applications is April 15, 2021.

Excerpts are borrowed and/or adapted from Rev. Philip E. Bauguess of Olivet Moravian Church at the memorial service and from family contributions.

Sandi Scannelli is president and CEO of the Clemmons Community Foundation.