Raina Eberly and her husband, Brian Engdahl, were professional partners and life partners. Both received doctorates in counseling psychology from the University of Minnesota and were pioneers in the research and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in war veterans.
At home, the couple spent weekends restoring a 1909 fixer-upper on Summit Avenue. Eberly even made Arts and Crafts-style stained glass inserts for the house's built-in buffet.
"Raina expressed her creativity with her hands and through her work with people," said Engdahl.
Eberly, 66, died in that St. Paul home on March 27 after a long illness.
She grew up in Chambersburg, Pa., and after high school she planned to major in Spanish at the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico. After a year, she switched her major to psychology because she decided it would allow her to be of help to others. She got her undergraduate degree from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown in 1973. Eberly and Engdahl met during orientation as psychology graduate students at the U. They went ice skating at Williams Arena, fixed up old houses to help pay the rent and were married in 1977.
After earning their Ph.D.s, they landed jobs as psychologists at the Minneapolis VA Health Care System. Eberly did groundbreaking clinical research and contributed to a book that brought awareness to PTSD among veterans, especially older former prisoners of war. She and Engdahl also wrote papers on the subject that were published in medical journals such as Psychiatric Services.
In addition to treating veterans, Eberly was the psychology training director at the Minneapolis VA and the St. Paul Vet Center for nearly 26 years before retiring in 2006.
"Her greatest satisfaction was seeing veterans recover and return to work and family life," said Engdahl, a psychologist and investigator at the Brain Sciences Center at the Minneapolis VA.
Peter Zelles, a clinical psychologist and one of Eberly's trainees, remembers her as being kind and thoughtful. "She gave me a statue of a Buddha for good luck in finishing my dissertation," he said. A former colleague at the Minneapolis VA described Eberly as a compassionate, even-keeled professional. "She consistently showed remarkable insight about cases and never lost sight that there was a human being behind the problem," said Ernest Boswell.
Robin King Cooper, a clinical psychologist and friend, recalled the parties hosted by Eberly and Engdahl while they were graduate students, calling Eberly a "very supportive friend as we slogged through our academic hurdles together."
Eberly often volunteered at the Friends School of Minnesota, which their daughter Rebecca Engdahl attended. When Rebecca took a Russian class at St. Paul Central High School, the family began hosting international students at their home. Eberly became an influential mentor for each one. "She wanted to give them better opportunities than they had in their country and guide the next generation," her husband said.
Because Eberly detested winter, the family often traveled to tropical locales such as Costa Rica and Belize. Rebecca admired her mother's creative hobbies, from gardening to sewing outfits for her dolls. In fact, Rebecca credits her mother, a plant and animal lover, for influencing her choice of a wildlife biology major.
"But she was stubborn," said Rebecca. "When we went mushroom hunting, she never wanted to quit."
Besides her husband and daughter, Eberly is also survived by her mother, Betty, and sister Regina Neidrick. Services have been held.