IN THE NEWS
Local DAR Chapter
The local Mary Ball DAR Chapter has partnered with the Puyallup Historical Society to research the lineage of Ezra and Eliza Jane Meeker. Hours of research confirmed that Ezra's great great grandfather, Timothy Meeker was a patriot who knew George Washington.
The Mary Ball DAR Chapter also recently secured a grant to restore windows that were removed from a second floor guest bedroom to install an emergency exit door during the time when the Mansion operated as a nursing home more than 60 years ago.
In addition to research and historic preservation projects, the Mary Ball DAR Chapter has:
Collected over 500 pounds of food for the Nourish Pierce County Food Bank;
Financially supported the Puget Sound Honor Flight, participated in the welcome home ceremonies, and made 19 quilts for the flights;
Donated clothing to the Suits for Service organization, including over 110 mens and womens suits, and over 100 blouses, skirts and sweaters; and
Donated over 6200 books to various literacy programs.
Puyallup Kiwanians recently celebrated a century of community service in the Puyallup Valley.
The local Kiwanis club is well known for their many volunteers who provide traffic control for the annual Daffodil Parade in downtown Puyallup.
The volunteer club also sponsored the installation of the popular "Splash Park" in Pioneer Park.
Lifelong Support of Schools
Today’s Puyallup residents usually recognize the Kalles name from the Junior High School located on 3rd Street in downtown, or from parking their cars in the ball fields while attending the Fair. What is not so well known today is that the school is named after Eileen Kalles, a woman who served many years on the Puyallup School Board, helped to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the construction of a new junior high school, and served on the state Board of Education for almost two decades. Her advocacy for schools made it possible to provide new classrooms for students and meet the need of a growing community.
So who was Eileen Barbara Kalles? She was born to James and Clara Reilly on March 31, 1915 in Pierce County. She grew up nearby and graduated from Tacoma’s Lincoln High School in 1932 and upon graduation had plans to pursue a career as a bookkeeper. After she moved to Puyallup, she met and married James Elroy Kalles in December of 1935.
By 1954 Eileen Kalles was listed as one of five school board members and the only woman to serve at that time. That year the school board campaigned for one of the largest bond measures in Puyallup School District history. The $850,000 was to be used to finance the construction of a new Junior High which opened in 1956. After the bond's successful passing, Kalles continued to serve on the school board and in 1962 began serving on the Washington State Board of Education. In 1981, she left the State Board of Education after serving for 19 years.
Though passionate about public education, Kalles was also involved in other local community organizations. She served on the board of the Puyallup Valley YMCA, volunteered at Puyallup Valley Youth Services, United Way of Pierce County, and the Ezra Meeker Historical Society (now the Puyallup Historical Society at Meeker Mansion). In 1977 she even received the Outstanding Citizen Award from the Tacoma Rotary Club.
To honor her dedication to the students and schools of the Valley and the State, the Puyallup School District renamed East Junior High to the Eillen B. Kalles Junior High. A college scholarship in her name was also started for former Kalles Jr. High students graduating high school in the Puyallup School District.
The Puyallup Historical Society at Meeker Mansion is honored to share this information about Eileen Kalles. Her passion for students, public education and community leadership exemplifies how women throughout history have impacted our state and communities making them great places to live and raise families.
Leading New Technology Systems
for Today's Health Care
Brenda Bowles is probably best known for her work as Director of Clinical Informatics at Multicare. She knew she wanted to be a nurse since the age of four, but Informatics eventually became Bowles’ singular career focus and she was good at it.
Born in 1967, Brenda Parker eventually met and married Donnie Bowles. Her professional goals were always in alignment with the larger MultiCare goals and some commented that she “bled MultiCare blue.” Colleagues described her as respectful, disarming, engaging, and sometimes intense.
Bowles began her career on 2-West at Allenmore as a Ward Secretary or “Huck.” After attending nursing school, she worked there as a staff nurse and eventually the Charge Nurse. After finishing her Bachelor of Science Degree at UW, she became the Nurse Manager. She received her Master’s Degree at UW in 2014 in Nursing Leadership/Informatics and knew she had found her niche. Bowles was part of the pilot team that installed the first electronic health record in the State of Washington at Tacoma General Hospital. With the program from its beginning, Bowles grew into the medical informatics leader that would build, implement, and advance EPIC as the system wide electronic health record solution throughout MultiCare hospitals and clinics based in Tacoma, Puyallup, Gig Harbor, Auburn, Covington, Olympia, Spokane and the regions outside the state.
In a 2018 interview with the Spokane Journal of Business, and in a typical Bowles manner, she said the EPIC conversion turned out to be a larger undertaking than originally estimated in some respects, but added, “Did we anticipate those challenges? Absolutely.”
Bowles passed away on May 4, 2021 at the age of 53. She leaves not only a legacy of implementing efficiencies in today's health care system, but her passion and work ethic earned her lasting respect by many of her peers and colleagues. The Puyallup Historical Society is proud to recognize Brenda Bowles as a woman whose work benefited many people in our local communities who utilize today's new health care systems.
Feeding a Community One Meal at a Time
If you know the name Hanneh Kalis, it is likely that you are either being served a meal with lovingly delivered orders to be civil at all times and clean up after yourself, or you are serving the meals and running errands for her. Kalis believes that if a community works together, it can provide for those who need assistance. And she's not shy about asking for your help. Kalis didn't grow up here, but she considers the Puyallup Valley her home and is grateful for all that she has.
When Kalis arrived in Puyallup with her husband, Musa, her sister and father, they were refugees from a village outside of Bethlehem. The founder of St. Francis House, Doris Michalek, came to their aid and Kalis and her family never forgot it.
Kalis became a volunteer at the St. Francis House doing whatever was needed, but eventually became the meal coordinator (still a volunteer position) for the dinner program. The program serves people in need in Puyallup, Sumner, and Fife, but is welcome to anyone that, as Kalis stated in a 2009 interview, “needs to feel like somebody.” That is the environment she strives to create and she even spends her holidays helping to organize and serve community dinners because this group “is her family, too”. As many other volunteers note, it is hard to say no to her.
Through her work at St. Francis House, Kalis not only provides the community with needed meals, she also assists with providing needed clothing when possible. She gives support, and is a friend to many. Some of her well known meal program nights have been hosted at the Washington National Guard Puyallup Armory. The Armory is now closed and recently sold to Central Pierce Fire District, but Kalis considers many of the Armory members she worked with part of her second family and went out of her way to support them and their families.
With her 45 years of volunteer service at St. Francis House, including 30 years running the meal program, Kalis’ passion for the community has not gone unnoticed. She has been honored by the Catholic Church with the Archbishop Raymond G. Hunthausen Humanitarian award, received a Lions Club Fellowship award, recognized as an Everyday Hero by the Puyallup Kiwanis Club, and even received The Washington Army National Guard Commander’s Award for Public Support, the fourth highest public service decoration the United States Department of the Army can bestow upon a civilian.
Kalis continues to give back to the community through her work at St. Francis House. Her goal is to make a positive change in the world. The Puyallup Historical Society at Meeker Mansion is proud to recognize Hanneh Kalis for her years of service, and as a woman who simply gets things done.
Aida Reid Hood
Legacy of Education
Born in Iowa in 1865, Aida Hood moved to Puyallup in 1890, the same year that the Meekers built their now iconic Mansion. She arrived as a single woman and was hired as a teacher. She taught first and second grade at the old Central School, the same location where the Karshner Museum stands today.
Because she had no family in Puyallup, she boarded with the Hubbard family across the street from the school. Some in the community began noticing that Charles Hood regularly strolled by their homes and businesses on his way to see the new school teacher. Aida Madge Reid married Charles Hood on May 27, 1897.
Hood was very active in the Puyallup community helping to found the Library Association, as well as the Parent Teacher Association in both Puyallup and Pierce County. She was a member and founder of the Puyallup Women’s Club, and the secretary of the Pierce County Anti-Tuberculosis League for 13 years. She was a friend of Eliza Jane Meeker and for many years spearheaded efforts of the Women’s Club committee to recognize Eliza Jane Meeker’s contributions to early Puyallup.
Hood and her husband would go on to have three children, Helen, Mary and Charles. Charles Jr. and his wife, Hazel, would be among the group of people who saved the Meeker Mansion from demolition, and Helen became the first life-time member of the Historical Society.
The Puyallup Historical Society at Meeker Mansion is proud to recognize Aida Hood as a woman who worked to educate children. Through her descendants, she also leaves a legacy of preserving and maintaining Meeker Mansion. By doing so, our Society can continue to provide future generations with programming and education about the Meekers, the impact of various cultures in the development of our local communities, and the agricultural heritage of the Puyallup Valley.
Megan Quann Jendrick
Two -time U.S. Olympian and three time Olympic medalist, Megan Jendrick began winning awards for swimming in 1998. At just 16 years old and swimming under her maiden name, Quann, she represented the United States during the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. She was the youngest medalist on the U.S. Olympic Swim Team, earning an individual gold medal in the 100-meter breaststroke and another as part of the 4x100 meter medley relay, during which she helped set a world record.
After returning from the Olympics, Jendrick continued to compete and won a silver medal at the 2001 World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan, on the 4x100 meter medley relay. She graduated from Emerald Ridge High School in 2002 and then started attending Pacific Lutheran University. She married Nathan Jendrick on Dec 18, 2004.
Though she retired in 2004, Jendrick returned to swimming when she won three gold medals at the World University Games in 2005. She was only the second woman to swim the 100-yard breaststroke in under a minute and the second woman in history to swim the 100-yard breaststroke in under 59 seconds.
In 2008 Jendrick again joined the U.S. Olympic team finishing in fifth place in the 100-meter breaststroke and earning a silver medal as part of the 4×100-meter medley relay. Megan continued to compete until she announced her retirement in 2013.
Throughout her swimming career, Jendrick set 27 American records, four world records, is a thirteen-time national champion, ten-time U.S. Open champion, seven-time masters world record-holder, and fifteen-time U.S. Masters national record-holder. Outside of being a professional athlete she is an author, fitness columnist, motivational speaker, among other things.
The Puyallup Historical Society at Meeker Mansion is proud to recognize Olympic athlete, Megan Quann Jendrick, as a local Woman of History committed to excellence.
A Talent for Preserving History
Best known for her articles about Puyallup Valley history, Loretta “Lori” Price, was a passionate community leader committed to preserving local history. Price authored many articles and wrote her own “Museum Pieces” column. Her devoted readers enjoyed learning about local pioneers, buildings and architecture, and historic celebrations that brought the past to life.
In 1980 Price served as the President of the Ezra Meeker Historical Society (now the Puyallup Historical Society at Meeker Mansion), and in 1986 was named City Historian by the Puyallup City Council. In 2002 she co-authored “Puyallup; A Pioneer Paradise” with Ruth Anderson. The book has remained so popular that it has been reprinted several times.
Lori Price was born October 23, 1924, in Owensboro, Kentucky. She was the fourth oldest of nine children born to parents, Joseph and Mary Long. One of her many interests as a young woman included flying. During WWII she volunteered to be part of a women’s organization that would deliver airplanes from the manufacturer to air bases. Though accepted to the program, it was shut down just before she could begin. Undeterred, Price worked at various airfields where she eventually met her husband, Earl Price. They were married in 1946 and she traveled with him through his various Air Force duty stations.
Price immersed herself in the history, culture, and traditions of each new place she visited. When her family settled in the Puyallup area in 1958, she began researching the community history of her new home, an action which would soon lead her to a career in writing.
Price initially started freelance writing at The Pierce County Herald. She then became the lifestyles editor, and by 1969, became editor of the entire paper. She stepped down as editor in the 1970’s, but continued to write general interest and history columns. Eventually she focused solely on local history. She turned in her last “Museum Pieces” column on December 21, 2006, just weeks before she passed away in January of 2007.
A Puyallup Herald editorial later characterized Price as “[a]n icon of the community, Ms. Price believed that history tells us about the current world in which we live, and that our search for meaning through historical records gives us a wiser understanding of who we are and what we are capable of archiving.”
Price’s research and body of work was donated to the Puyallup Historical Society at Meeker Mansion by her family after her passing. This information is considered the "heart" of the historical society archives. The abundance of information, photographs and handwritten notes, evidence her passion for history and her commitment to ensure it is preserved for future generations.
Like Ezra Meeker, Lori Price's name is well known to generations that grew up in the Puyallup Valley. Her writings inspire future generations to continue preserving and sharing local history. It is with a sense of pride that the Puyallup Historical Society at Meeker Mansion acknowledges her work and contributions to history during Women's History Month.
Olive Osborne Jones
World War 1 Army Nurse
Olive Osborne was born in 1883, the second child born to Caroline Meeker Osborne and Eben Osborne. While growing up Olive was very close with her grandparents, Ezra and Eliza Jane Meeker, and even helped nurse her grandmother toward the end of Eliza Jane’s life. During World War I Olive joined the Army as a Nurse and was stationed in France. After the war ended Olive continued to work as a private nurse. She married Captain Myrl F. Jones on March 10, 1920. Olive Jones passed away at the age of 82 in 1966.
The Puyallup Historical Society at Meeker Mansion is proud to recognize yet another generation of Meekers who have served our country. We consider Olive Osborne Jones a distinguished Woman of History.
Women Serving our Country
Born Frances Elizabeth Jay on January 16, 1920 in Steeleville, Illinois, Beth Harman was well known in the in Puyallup Valley. She graduated from Danville High School in 1938, and graduated from the St. Francis School of Nursing in 1941. Beth said that her three years of nursing education, which included room and board, cost her $79 per year and that at the time, $79 a year was hard to come by.
She had learned that her older brother, Jim, had been called into service during WWII. She quickly decided not to be left behind. “If he goes, I’m going” Harman said. “He flunked his physical, and I passed mine.” Harman joined the army shortly after Pearl Harbor was bombed and served as an army nurse in New Guinea and eventually Australia where she met Wayne Harman, the man she would eventually marry. Towards the end of the war, a hospital ship was leaving Australia with 700 wounded on board and one nurse. The skipper wouldn’t leave until he had one more nurse so Beth volunteered.
Beth left the service in 1946 as a 1st lieutenant. She then worked as an instructor at St. Anthony’s hospital, a unit of the Loretto Heights College School of Nursing in Denver, Colorado. She married Wayne Harman in 1950 and moved to his hometown of Orting, Washington, where they raised their family. She started working at Valley Terrace Nursing Home in Puyallup around 1968 for a “short period of time” to help family friends who owned the facility. She retired after 15 years. Beth was responsible for the careers of many of her dedicated “aids” to go on to become nurses.
During those years at Valley Terrace, Beth was instrumental in recruiting local nurse, Nancy White, one of the country’s first Nurse Practitioners, to establish a practice in Orting. The town had recently lost its local physician, so Beth worked with Sony Inger, Bill Cope and a few others to form a Heath Council to support and help finance the new practice. Nurse Practitioner White served the Orting community for 11 years.
Beth Harman was also a member of the Puyallup Altrusa for many years and through that organization was instrumental for the success of several projects in Orting.
On November 8, 2018, Harman, became the first woman named to Wall of Heroes at the VA Puget Sound in Seattle. She was honored in a ceremony attended by Governor Jay Inslee, VA employees, and Madigan Army medical staff. She joined eight other veterans of WWII, Korean War and Vietnam War at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Included in her military awards are the Bronze Battle Star, plus medals acknowledging her service in the Vietnam war and the Asia Pacific Theater.
Francis Elizabeth Jay Harman died September 25, 2020 at the age of 100.
Courtesy Orting Historical Society
Olive Meeker McDonald
Assistant Lady Commissioner
The youngest daughter of Ezra and Eliza Jane Meeker, Olive Meeker was born on October 14, 1863 and was the only Meeker child born in Puyallup.
Olive often accompanied her father and mother on their various journeys. When only 16 years of age, she traveled with her parents to New Orleans in 1886 and served as Assistant Lady Commissioner alongside her parents at the New Orleans Exposition. While there her parents attended the Eighteenth National Woman’s Suffrage Convention in Washington D.C. and journals indicate she likely attended with them.
On October 15, 1890, Olive Meeker was married to Roderick McDonald, her father's bookkeeper, in a ceremony held at the Meeker Mansion. The Mansion was not completed and Ezra and Eliza Jane had not yet moved in. A family portrait was taken on the steps and is now displayed on the wall in the small parlor. After the wedding photos, the family adjourned to the Park Hotel for their reception dinner. Some of the food served was grown on the grounds at the Mansion. The Park Hotel was another business venture of Ezra Meeker's. Though the hotel was not open, the restaurant downstairs was.
Olive would later accompany her father and husband to Dawson City in the Yukon during the gold rush. When Olive returned to Puyallup in 1889 to give birth to her only child Wilfred, she stayed with her mother at the Meeker Mansion, creating an apartment for herself out of two rooms on the first floor. Shortly after Wilfred’s birth, Olive, the new baby, and Ezra returned to the Yukon. She would become a social figure in Dawson City, as well as in Eagle, Alaska. Olive passed away in Penticton, British Columbia, Canada in 1936.
Nurse Practitioner Pioneer
Before nurse practitioner, Nancy White, came home to Orting to establish a clinic, the community had been without a doctor for more than two years. Washington State passed a law in 1972 which permitted nurses to establish clinics, and diagnose and treat illnesses. The first nurse practitioner licenses were issue in 1973 in Washington State.
Raised on the Orting family homestead, White graduated from Orting High School in the 1950's and received her nurse's training at Tacoma General Hospital.
When she became head nurse at Doctor's Hospital in Seattle, she established the first coronary care unit in the Northwest. For four summers she took leave from her position to work for a cannery near Naknek on the Alaska peninsula. There in the Aleutians, beginning in 1965, she acquired the background for an isolated nursing practice.
White worked as a nurse coordinator for the Washington-Alaska Regional medical Program, a federal program which helped to establish nurse practitioners in a few isolated communities in the state including Vashon, Darrington and Longbranch.
In 1971, Mayor Wayne Harmon and other community leaders approached White about re-opening the clinic which closed after Dr. Wm Morrison moved his practice to Puyallup.
Her greatest difficulties at the clinic were lack of funding and long work hours. The first two years of the clinic, she handled 4,000 patient visits. She supplemented her income by serving as Orting's only school nurse for 640 pupils.
White has received national recognition for her work and has been a featured speaker at several national nursing symposiums.
White, who has retired and continues to live on the Orting family homestead, exemplifies the commitment of outstanding local women who have served our communities throughout history.
Courtesy Orting Historical Society
Preserving Community History
Alice Rushton is best remembered for her work memorializing the early history of Orting. She spent ten years researching and writing the “History of the Town of Orting” and finally published it in 1981. She also helped compile several other books about Orting: Orting Valley Yesterday and Today, Orting Centennial Bell-Tower Biographies, and Orting School Enrollment 1889-1960.
Born Alice Pearl Cloud in 1934, she moved to Orting to start 6th grade in 1945 and graduated from Orting High School in 1952. She married Glenn Nunnally the same year and they had four children. She married Bill Rushton in 1966 after her husband died 1963. She attended local colleges, worked as a real estate agent, and was a writer, journalist and proofreader for local newspapers.
Alice and her husband, Glenn, built the Orting Drive Inn and it opened daffodil weekend in 1961. Alice once commented "With the paint barely dry and our lack of experience with the unfamiliar equipment, opening day was chaos". It later became the Wayside Drive Inn and is now known as Route 66 Pizza.
As the City of Orting prepared for their Centennial Celebration in 1989, Rushton served as secretary for the Centennial Committee which successfully raised enough money to build the Orting Bell Tower. She was also heavily involved in the committee which raised over $15,800 to purchase and install the ornate sidewalk clock that now stands in front of the multipurpose center/library at the corner of Washington Avenue and Train Avenue.
Rushton's ability to write was well known in the community and was hired in the 1990s by Mayor Guy Colorossi to take minutes of all city council meetings.
Rushton was a charter member of the Orting Senior Center and was also instrumental in the formation of the Orting Historical Society which continues her efforts of documenting Orting’s Heritage. The Historical Society is presently working to publish a second book detailing more history of Orting.
Alice Pearl Cloud Nunnally Rushton died in 2006, but her legacy of preserving Orting's history continues to be read and shared.
Courtesy Orting Historical Society
Women Mayors of Puyallup
Mayor Mary Meyer
Mayor Kathy Turner
Mayor Julie Door
Many Puyallup residents know that Ezra Meeker served as the city’s first mayor from 1890 to 1892. Of the 56 mayors that have served since 1890, Puyallup has had only three female mayors: Mary Meyer, who served from 1978-1979; Kathy Turner who served from 2002 – 2005 and again from 20010 – 2011; and Julie Door, our most recent female mayor, who served from 2020-2021. The Puyallup Historical Society recognizes the leadership of these women and their commitment to public service in the Puyallup community.
Eliza Jane Meeker
Puyallup's First Lady
Eliza Jane Sumner was born in Indiana on October 15, 1834. She married Ezra Morgan Meeker on May 13, 1851, when she was 16 years old. Eliza Jane is recognized for her community leadership and public contributions that continue to provide education to generations of guests that visit and live in the Pacific Northwest.
Eliza Jane was the driving force behind the construction of the iconic Meeker Mansion in downtown Puyallup, Washington. The ornate 1890 home of the Meekers is appropriately listed on the National Registry of Historic Sites. While Ezra was brokering hops in the global market, Eliza Jane was busy working with contractors, and designing the Italianate style Victorian mansion that hosts thousands of tours each year. Guests from all over the world come to see the Mansion as well as 4th grade students who visit as part of their U.S. History curriculum.
Eliza Jane traveled the Oregon Trail in 1852 with her husband, Ezra. They had six children; Marion, Ella, Fred, Olive, Caroline, and Thomas, who died in infancy. Eliza was very active in her church hosting many annual events at their home. She considered education a high priority and in 1862 she opened a “lending library” from their cabin which was located in what is now Pioneer Park. In 1885 she was appointed Lady Commissioner by the Governor of Louisiana when she accompanied Ezra on his official trip to the New Orleans Exposition as Commissioner of the Washington State Exhibit.
Ezra gave Eliza Jane full credit in his memoirs for her ingenuity in preparing for, and enduring, their arduous journey over the Oregon Trail in search of available farmland. When Ezra lost his fortune in hops, Eliza Jane was an instrumental partner in his next business venture. She grew and dehydrated fruit, packed vegetables grown on the property, and raised eggs to send to the Yukon where Ezra operated the E. Meeker Log Cabin Grocery during the Gold Rush.
Later, Eliza Jane also became very interested in the Suffragettes and had an important role in the suffrage movement in Puyallup and Washington State. She served as Co-Vice President of the Puyallup Woman’s Equal Suffrage Association with Elizabeth Spinning. In 1890, the Meekers attended the National American Woman Suffrage Convention in Washington, D.C. In her journal, Eliza Jane wrote of hearing Elizabeth Cady Stanton delivering her farewell address and seeing Susan B. Anthony.
Eliza Jane died at the South View Sanitarium in Seattle, Washington at the age of 75. At her funeral, Ezra gave a very loving tribute to his wife of 58 years.
“Gentle in manner, unassuming in demeanor, lovable in character, courageous in danger, fearless in moral trials, cheerful in adversity, sweet tempered in perplexity, never giving way to temptation from flattery, she remained steadfast to the last as helper, prudent counsellor, altruistic worker and self- sacrificing as to her own environments, I said, to the last, meaning until under stress of prolonged illness, she sank into the last sweet slumber of death without struggle and without pain on the 9th of October 1909.”
The Puyallup Historical Society at Meeker Mansion recognizes Eliza Jane for her contributions to her family, the business community, public education, the faith community, and serving as an officer of the local suffragette association to advocate for the women’s right to vote in our country. Eliza Jane Sumner Meeker was a notable woman in Puyallup’s history. Her legacy continues to provide public education for those who visit the beautiful home she had built for her family.
Published February 14, 2022
Dr. DeMaurice “Bucky” Moses – A pioneer of pediatric medicine in the Puyallup Valley, retired after 34 years of practice in 1999. Families in the area remember him as the kind and talented physician who cared for their children. His colleagues called him unusual, a real old-fashioned doctor who made night calls and house calls, always putting good medical treatment first and his bank account and personal needs last. He is described as a soft-spoken man with a reputation for treating young patients and their parents with great kindness and dignity. Even when x-rays and laboratory reports failed to provide answers, he calmed parents, listening intently to children in ways that often enabled him to make a correct diagnosis.
Dr. Moses achieved success and enormous stature in the community with his efforts. Deeper understanding of the obstacles he faced being black and as a physician in the 1960s adds another dimension of appreciation for the man.
Moses was born in 1933 in Freedmen's Hospital in Washington, D.C, a hospital built by the U.S. government to care for former slaves. It was a time when segregation was still enforced in the South. Moses attended segregated, all black elementary schools, in Washington, D.C. Childhood experiences included, not being permitted in any public park, church, or restaurant where white people gathered. If he went beyond his home in the District of Columbia, he rode at the back of the bus and used restrooms marked for "colored" people. To improve “Bucky’s” educational prospects, the family moved to Jamaica Queens, New York. Due to the efforts of his mother, who was a teacher, he was able to attend superior quality white schools. Moses attended the same elementary school as general Colin Powell. He was four years ahead of Powell and remembers being the only black kid in the school. In eighth grade, Moses began attending Horace Mann Lincoln High School in New York City with very well-off white children. There, he began to do well in the sciences. While comfortable with white children, he had black friends and lived in a black neighborhood in Jamaica, Long Island.
At age 15, his mother sent him to the Mt. Hermon School (for boys) in Massachusetts. It was a highly competitive prep school with great athletic programs. His science grades were very competitive, and he was selected to the All-American Prep School Swim Team for 1950. You could go onto Yale from there, which he did in 1951 at age 18. While attending the Yale University, he continued swimming and swam fast enough to break IVY League and Naval Academy pool records in the 200-yard breaststroke. One photo (above) shows him wearing his Yale lettermen sweater as a college student. Another photo, taken last summer, captures his pleased smile that at the age of 88 he still fits into the same sweater. Dr. Moses graduated from Yale in June of 1955.
While Moses was a bright young graduate of Yale, two-thirds of the nation's medical schools at the time refused to accept black students. Moses gained acceptance and entered Case Western Reserve University Medical School in Cleveland, Ohio in the fall of 1955, earning his medical degree, partly funded by ROTC scholarship in 1959. Following completion of his rotating internship, at Case, his first wife, Grace Moses, gave birth to their first child, Belinda Moses, at University Hospital where Dr. Moses worked as a medical resident. Grace was a negro and not allowed to share a room with a white woman. The family was given a room with empty beds to themselves. Dr. Moses left Cleveland in 1961 (with his young family) to serve our country as an army captain in West Germany for three years. Dr. Moses became chief of pediatrics at Wurzburg Army Hospital in his first year abroad. Dr. Moses returned to Cleveland to complete his residency in pediatrics which had been interrupted by military service. Racial barriers, thwarted his efforts to establish a private practice. He discovered racial segregation in the private practice medicine presented problems for him that had not existed in the Army.
Escalating civil unrest, drove Dr. Moses’ decision to move to pursue opportunity to own property and his own medical practice and move his family to the west coast. He wrote to Dr. Paul Gerstmann, a longtime Puyallup pediatrician, seeking work in his practice. The letter made a big impression on Gerstmann, who was at the time the only pediatrician in Puyallup. Gerstmann immediately wrote back inviting Moses to come quickly to Puyallup. Gerstmann cleared a space in his living room for Moses to see patients, and the two doctors set out to fight illness and save lives.
Gerstmann went on to say "He (Moses) saved my life. I was a very busy pediatrician at that time. We didn't have 24-hour emergency rooms in those days. We didn't have 911. So, we were the 24-hour emergency room for over 100,000 people." Moses recalls, "Literally, there wasn't anything. It was you and whatever you could do to save the patient." Dr. Moses made his own ambulance with a station wagon and a mattress thrown in the back, where twice he crouched over a child to extract blood from the brain and ward off death.
Upon arrival in Puyallup, Moses and his family rented a home next to Good Samaritan Hospital. Then hospital administrator, Paul Teslow, had interceded with the neighbors to facilitate approval of the rental to the Moses family because Puyallup had a reputation for housing denial to negroes. Moses said, "He and his family never felt a trace of discrimination from anyone" while they rented the home near the hospital. Several years later they purchased farm property in Puyallup and Grace realized her dream of running a small horse farm with a menagerie of animals.
In 1967, Moses founded the Hilltop Children's Clinic and after five years facilitated its turnover of responsibility to Mary Bridge Children Hospitals in 1973. In the first five years, Moses saw 5,000 patients at his Hilltop Children's Clinic, where patients were not charged any fees and the doctor was not compensated. After one year of operation, there were 308 indigent (poor) children seen. Ten years later, at Mary Bridge Clinic, 4,000 children were enrolled. In 1967, immunization deficiency was 60%, and 30% of children seen had received no immunizations. By 1977, all were immunized, had received complete standard well childcare and had their own doctors in Pierce County. President Richard Nixon initially approved federal funding of the eventual Mary Bridge based clinic under the WIC program. It continued to receive federal funding for at least 35 years. The WIC program started as a law written by Washington Senator Warren Magnuson and was based on the summaries of information Moses collected at the Hilltop Clinic.
Moses also served as the first medical director of the now well-established children's therapy unit at Good Samaritan hospital in the late 1960s. In the 1980s, he teamed up with his wife, Grace, to create a program called Equest, providing free horseback riding for disabled children at the couple's farm, the Right Spot Ranch. The program was turned over to the Puyallup Fair and their new indoor arena in the 1990s.
Initially, Dr. Moses practiced alongside Gerstmann in the "house with the big porch" at the corner of Pioneer and 5th St. S.W., which was originally built by Ezra's brother, John Valentine Meeker. His next office was located on East Main in Puyallup. He built his last office in partnership with local automobile dealer, Armand Moceri. It was a 4,800 sq. ft. building located at 338 Second St. S.E., behind the Forbidden City Restaurant. There, his new waiting room boasted large wall size murals of farm animals, vegetables and farmers painted by his daughter, Belinda, to appeal to his pint-sized patients. Children looked forward to the candy suckers handed out after their doctor’s appointment. The office has since been torn down and the site is now home to Puyallup’s new City Hall.
Moses' practice was characterized by his indifference to the "business" of medicine. Not only did he routinely provide free medical care to patients, he also provided follow-through care and attention to patients and their families well beyond the category of reimbursable "procedures" of today's practice. While Dr. Moses earning the love and respect of thousands, he overcame the obstacles black professionals face in a largely white community. Jan Bustad, a registered nurse employed by Dr. Moses off and on for three decades, described him as "a man of great integrity and the highest moral character".
With over 200,000 patient visits to his credit, Dr. Moses closed his practice in the spring of 1999. After his wife, Grace, passed away in 2007, he returned to his roots in Washington, D.C. He remarried a childhood friend at the age of 80, Dr. Charlene Drew-Jarvis, daughter of African American, blood banking pioneer, Dr. Charles Drew. Dr. Moses and spends time in Puyallup each summer visiting family and friends.
During our interview with him last summer, Dr. Moses emphasized that we communicate his appreciation of the Puyallup community. "I enjoyed my time in Puyallup and am extremely appreciative of how my family was welcomed and supported in the community."
On behalf of the Puyallup Historical Society, I want to thank Dr. Moses for such a candid interview. Conversations regarding race and equity are important to document as we collect information to pass on to future generations. Ezra believed that to be true, and we strive to continue his efforts of preserving and sharing history of the Puyallup Valley.
Shelly Schlumpf, President
Puyallup Historical Society at Meeker Mansion
Puyallup Celebrates Black History
A two day community celebration at the Puyallup Nazarene Church took place on February 25 and Feb 26, 2022. The first of its kind in the Puyallup community. The event featured food, fun, education, art, history and more. Guests heard from panelists about black experiences in the Puyallup community and many shared feedback about education and social equity. Live music and dance performances greeted attendees as they waiting for their tours to start on the second day, and black entrepreneurs displayed products in the vendor expo guests explored at the end of the tours. More than a century of black history was displayed for attendees to learn about. Local military representatives shared the impact of black soldiers serving our country and the region. Those who generously hosted and supported the event are already hard at work planning a next year's event in 2023.