Elizabeth “Ibby” Conroy

Elizabeth “Ibby” Conroy, a nurse at the former Arnie Hanson Center in Portland, died Friday of complications of Parkinson’s disease. She was 81.

Mrs. Conroy worked in the maternity unit at Mercy Hospital from 1960 to 1972. Then, she put her nursing career on hold to raise her children.

She was a loving wife of Joseph P. Conroy Sr. for 58 years. They lived in South Portland, where they raised four children.

Mrs. Conroy was remembered by her family Monday as a kind, sensitive and loving woman who had a positive impact on many people’s lives.

From 1986 to 2001, she worked as a nurse at the former Arnie Hansen Center on India Street in Portland, the current home of Milestone Foundation. The facility provides emergency shelter, detoxification, substance use and behavioral health services for some of Portland’s most vulnerable people.

Her son, Joseph P. Conroy Jr. of South Portland, said Monday she offered hope to so many people struggling with substance use disorders.

“She had the most eloquent way of speaking to you that put you completely at ease,” her son said. “She made you feel special and helped you see something in a different light that would give you hope for tomorrow.”

Mrs. Conroy knew how to help because she had struggled, too. Her son shared openly about his mother’s personal struggle with alcohol and her intensive work with other alcoholics. He said his mother died with 37 years of sobriety.

“She had a really big heart,” her son said. “She tried to alleviate suffering, and because of the incredible miracle she experienced through her own sobriety and her professional nursing career, she knew she could be of service and offer help to people that were struggling mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. She made a difference in these people’s lives for the better.”

Mrs. Conroy was a beloved member of the Portland area recovery community. Her son said she worked closely with women struggling with substance misuse.

“She was very loving, kind, sensitive and aware,” her son said. “My brothers and sister … we are all acutely aware of the well-being of someone else because of her.”

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