County Physical Therapist Made A Difference

BERLIN – The entire
Worcester County community lost a true treasure last week when a two-car
accident on Route 113 near Snow Hill claimed the life of a beloved school
system employee, mentor, mother and friend.

Around 11:30 a.m. last
Saturday, a 1999 Dodge Stratus attempting to pull out on the highway from
Betheden Church Rd struck a 2005 Chrysler Town and Country van traveling south
on Route 113 near Snow Hill. The Dodge Stratus struck the Chrysler van on its
passenger side, causing its left rear tire to leave the roadway and into the
grassy median.

According to police
reports, the van then re-entered the roadway, striking the elevated pavement,
causing it to flip. The van rolled over several times as it continued north,
crossing both lanes before coming to rest on its roof in the grass on the right
side of the road.

The van’s front seat
passenger, Joan Elizabeth Condyles, 54, of Pocomoke, succumbed to injuries
sustained in the crash, extinguishing a bright light in Worcester County. For
many years, the widely popular Condyles was a physical therapist with the
Worcester County Board of Education, and in that capacity, she traveled among
the local schools working with students who needed a little assistance in one
way or another.

While her physical
therapy skills often kept her based at the Cedar Chapel Special School, her
love and devotion to children took her to several schools in Worcester County.
She volunteered her time as a coach on the local Special Olympics team,
particularly the swimming program. In addition, through the Infants and
Toddlers program, Condyles worked with pre-school-aged children and parents in
their homes when developmental obstacles surfaced.

Worcester County Superintendent
of Schools Dr. Jon Andes said this week the entire school system was in
mourning over the community’s loss.

“Joan was an everyday
hero,” he said. “She was a person who dedicated her life to making a difference
for the children and families that she worked with.”

Andes said Condyles
often went above and beyond what was required of her as a physical therapist
and greatly touched the lives of the children and families with whom she came
into contact.

“It’s not only the
children she touches, but also the families because she was able to help them
develop strategies and techniques to support their children,” he said. “She was
a therapist by training, but she was truly one of our unsung heroes because she
made a difference.”

Because of her physical
therapy training, Condyles was not based at a specific school, although spent a
lot of time at the county’s Cedar Chapel Special School, but rather traveled
around the county to help wherever help was needed. In addition, her
involvement in the Infants and Toddlers program often took her out of the
schools and into the homes of many in the community.

“A therapist goes where
the need is,” said Andes. “Joan provided services throughout the county and
impacted many, many kids and families. Our school family is in grief. A school
system is a family, and we are in grief and mourning over the loss of one of
our family members.”

Condyles’ positive
impact in the community can be measured in many ways as illustrated by an
Internet social network. As the word spread in a few short hours after the
accident last Saturday morning, a Facebook page dedicated to her memory was
created, providing a space for friends and well-wishers to leave messages and
memories. By mid-week, the number of people visiting the page and leaving messages
had swelled to nearly 400.

Condyles’ passing left a
huge hole in the fabric of the community, but, more importantly, left a big
void in the lives of her family members, five of whom were in the van at the
time of the accident, including a 22-month-old juvenile. Each of the Condyles
family members in the van were transported to PRMC with various injuries, the
latter being transported by Delaware State Police helicopter with critical

The driver and two
passengers in the Dodge Stratus refused medical treatment at the scene. The
preliminary investigation determined the 17-year-old driver of the Dodge failed
to yield the right-of-way when she attempted to enter the highway. The
investigation is ongoing.

A Mass of Christian Burial, officiated by Father
William J. Porter, will be held for Condyles at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Holy
Name of Jesus Catholic Church in Pocomoke City. Family and friends may call
Friday from 6-8 p.m. at the Holloway Funeral Home in Pocomoke City, where there
will be a prayer service at 6 p.m. Interment will take place at the First
Baptist Cemetery in Pocomoke City.
Memorial contributions can be made to the Special Olympics, 1133 19th Street
NW, 12th Floor, Washington, DC 20036-3604 or to Holy Name of Jesus Catholic
Church, P.O. Box 179, Pocomoke City, Md. 21851.