Remembering Dr. Eugene Tranbarger

Eugene Tranbarger, PhD, a trailblazer in the field of nursing, who served as an inspiration and mentor to countless nurses, especially men in the profession, passed away on October 13. Dr. Tranbarger’s remarkable contributions to the nursing community have left an indelible mark on the industry, earning him a special place in the hearts of his colleagues, students, and the entire healthcare community.

Dr. Tranbarger embarked on his nursing journey by coming to North Carolina to pursue a Master of Science in Nursing in Nursing Administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Graduating from this program in 1970, he swiftly rose through the ranks, eventually becoming the Associate Director of Nursing at NC Memorial Hospital. During his tenure, he was appointed as an adjunct faculty member at the UNC School of Nursing, marking a historic moment as he became the first male nursing faculty member in North Carolina.

In a groundbreaking career, Dr. Tranbarger served as a trailblazer in multiple leadership positions. Notably, he became the first man to serve as President of the North Carolina Nurses Association and the first man to Chair the North Carolina Board of Nursing. His leadership in these roles not only advanced the nursing profession but also inspired others to follow in his footsteps.

Beyond his formal roles, Dr. Tranbarger served as a vital role model for countless young men considering nursing as a career. He used his voice in the media, wrote extensively on topics related to men in nursing, and actively engaged in multimedia recruitment campaigns aimed at increasing the number of men in the nursing profession.

Dr. Tranbarger’s legacy in the nursing community will continue to inspire generations of nurses and, in particular, men in nursing. His life’s work has opened doors for countless individuals who aspire to serve in this profession. As we reflect on his contributions, we remember a true pioneer whose influence will be felt for years to come.


Originally published by Rouse Mortuary Service & Crematory

Russell Eugene Tranbarger, age 87, died peacefully at his home in on October 13, 2023 after a long illness. Gene Tranbarger was a prominent nurse leader who practiced as a pediatric nurse in Illinois before becoming an Officer in the Army Nurse Corps, serving stateside and overseas military hospitals during the Vietnam era for almost 8 years. He later led nursing departments at the North Carolina Memorial Hospital in Chapel Hill and at Moses Cone Hospital in Greensboro, NC, becoming an adjunct faculty member at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He went on to teach at UNC Greensboro. and eventually retired from a tenured teaching position at East Carolina University’s School of Nursing in Greenville, NC.

Tranbarger received a diploma in Nursing at the Alexian Brother’s Hospital School of Nursing in 1959 in Chicago, IL and later earned a bachelor’s degree from DePaul University there. He earned graduate degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill [MSN] and North Carolina State University [EdD] in Raleigh, NC.

Gene Tranbarger first began his long-time leadership in professional nursing organizations as President of the National Student Nurses Association, Illinois Chapter. Later, he was elected President of the North Carolina Nurses Association, the first man to hold that position. During his tenure with NCNA, he notably led an effort to improve the North Carolina Nurse Practice Act by eliminating the physician and hospital administration members of the nursing board. He also served as the first Chairman of the NC Board of Nursing under the new regulations.

Recognizing the need for more men in the nursing profession, Gene Tranbarger joined the American Assembly [now Association] for Men in Nursing [AAMN] and rose to be its President. For thirty years he participated at local, state and national forums to advocate for men in a women’s’ occupation. He and co-author, Chad O’Lynn wrote of the history, challenges,and opportunities for men in nursing in their 2007 book. In his red jacket and distinctive beard Gene Tranbarger became a beloved mentor for many and the voice for men in the profession. He was honored by the North Carolina Nurses Association, the American Nurses Association as a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing, and the American Association for Men in Nursing who termed their annual writing award in his name. In 2008 he was the first recipient of Luther Christman Award and 2012 Hall of Fame Inductee both recognition given by American Nurses Association.

Russell Eugene Tranbarger was the only child of Andrew and Dorothy Orris Tranbarger of Jacksonville, IL. He met fellow Army nurse Theresa Isek and married her at the Presidio Army base San Francisco while both were in the US Army Nurse Corps. He and his beloved, Terry, owned an old colonial house in Roberson, NC where their front porch served as a gathering spot for friends. She predeceased him and was interred at Arlington National Cemetery with full Military honors.

Gene Tranbarger and Terry were devout Catholics and members of Holy Trinity Catholic Church, Williamston, NC. After Sunday Mass, he and Terry stayed in the church hall with parishioners for coffee. The family of Narcisco [Jie] and Rose Linsangan became special friends sharing meals and visits with Gene especially after Terry’s death. Gene adopted Jie as the son he never had, and they became a presence in each other’s lives. Gene is survived by his son Jie Linsangan, his wife Rose and their two sons, Aren and Jiro. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held Friday, November 3, 2023 at 5 PM at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, 830 East Blvd., Williamston. A second service will be held at Arlington National Cemetery when arrangements there are complete.

In lieu of flowers please consider to donate for Gene and Terry memorial garden.