A funeral Mass for Ann Prebil was celebrated Oct. 28 at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in University City. A co-founder of the Creighton Model FertilityCare System who taught the method all over the world, Prebil died Oct. 23 after a nearly nine-year battle with ovarian cancer. She was 71 years old.
A St. Louis native, Prebil attended Our Lady of Lourdes School and the Academy of the Sacred Heart (City House), graduating in 1964. She was a 1967 graduate of St. John's Mercy School of Nursing and became a registered nurse. She also earned a bachelor's degree in nursing from St. Louis University.
Prebil was part of a team that developed the Creighton Model FertilityCare System, one of several Church-approved natural methods of fertility regulation. In 1976, two years after Dr. Thomas Hilgers joined the faculty at St. Louis University's Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, he established the St. Louis University Natural Family Planning Center, which was based at St. Mary's Hospital in Richmond Heights.
Among the staff were Hilgers and his wife, Sue, Diane Daly and Prebil. Through her work, Prebil taught the method in many locations across the United States and the world. She worked with students individually in follow-up sessions and made numerous trips to countries in Europe, South America and Africa. At Mercy, she worked with couples, often assisting them with infertility issues.
In 1977, Dr. Hilgers went to Creighton University School of Medicine and eventually founded the Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction in Omaha, Neb. That same year, Prebil and Daly established the Department of FertilityCare Services at St. John's Mercy Medical Center (now Mercy). Prebil was instrumental in bringing the institute's educational training program to Mercy Hospital in St. Louis several years ago.
Daly and Prebil became friends in nursing school, spending countless hours talking about life issues.
"During over 40 years of working together, I saw that everyone who met Ann was touched with her warm hospitality, interest in them and passion for her work," Daly said. "She inspired me as she journeyed with this cancer for so many years and still continued the work. We have received condolences from all over the world expressing love for Ann who will be greatly missed."
Prebil also influenced Dr. Michael Dixon when he started his OB/GYN practice at St. Anthony's Medical Center in 1995. "Ann was truly an amazing individual with an infectious smile and an ever-present optimistic perspective on life," he said. "Never drawing attention to herself, Ann was truly a servant and advocate for family life, fervently carrying out the mission of Humanae Vitae."
Survivors include her husband of 48 years, Tom; children T.J., Jack, and Mary McCluskey; and siblings Joy McCarthy, Jack Fehlig, Dan Fehlig and Mary Fehlig. Burial was in Calvary Cemetery.