Electa Friday

by Sandy Schumacher

Electa Rossman Friday will ever be linked with the story of this community’s progress’ stated the Illustrated History of Skagit and Snohomish Counties, yet considering the impact she had on the medical community of this county, her name could certainly be referenced as the ‘missing link’.

Electa Friday, Courtesy of the Everett Public Library Northwest Room

Electa Friday spent her life serving the community by opening the first training school for nurses, and later opened and managed the new Everett Hospital built in 1904. Hers is definitely a name to be remembered in any study of the medical establishment of Snohomish County.
After finishing her education at Hahnemann Medical College in Chicago in 1878, Electa Rossman returned home to Hartford Wisconsin where she resumed life in the upper Midwest approximately thirty miles northwest of Milwaukee. Her father and uncle had settled in Hartford Wisconsin prior to statehood and started the Rossman’s Saw Mill along the scenic Rubicon River in the 1840’s. Electa’s parents were both born in New York State, but like many easterners of the 1840s, moved to settle the upper Midwest as it was crossing from Territorial into Statehood status

It may have been her mother’s story about her own relocation that encouraged Electa to move west, or it may be that after her marriage the northwest held the same promises to her and her husband as the Wisconsin Territory did for her parents forty-five years earlier. She married Henry Friday in Hartford Wisconsin in 1884, a young man reared on a farm in Hartford. After they were married he went to work for the railroad, which ultimately brought him to the west coast on business and over time the opportunities of pioneering in the northwest were apparent. When the Fridays arrived in Everett in 1893, he began a lifelong career buying and selling real estate. Coming to Everett seemed appropriate since two Friday brothers and their families had settled on the peninsula as early as 1890 and were a part of the city’s initial development.

Prior to the arrival of Mrs. Friday, the Articles of Incorporation of the new Everett Hospital stipulated that the eight men who were named as Trustees would elect twenty-five women to manage the running of the hospital. Construction began in August of 1893 in the 3300 block of Broadway and the first patient admitted in January 1894. In 1897 Electa Friday was appointed Superintendent and General Manager also known as the ‘matron’ of Everett Hospital and it was not long before she began the first training school for nurses. She served the community in this position until 1900 when she resigned. In 1904, while the Board of Trustees was deliberating on the poor financial status of the hospital, Mrs. Friday presented them with a proposal to develop a private hospital in the 3500 block of Hoyt Avenue, which was accepted and the existing hospital was sold. Mrs. Friday returned and resumed management of the Everett Hospital for four months pending the construction of her new hospital in the 3500 block of Hoyt Avenue.

Electra Friday on the right with nurses in the hospital. Courtesy of the Everett Public Library Northwest Room

On October 6, 1904 The Everett Herald announced that the recent opening reception of the new Everett Hospital had been declared the ‘social success of the week’. Mrs. Friday proudly received guests in the reception hall surrounded by palms, while nurses conducted tours of the new facility.

The new Everett Hospital contained a general hospital with maternity ward and a school of nursing as well as an area to treat special cases. Mrs. Friday took on the additional responsibility of Deputy Sheriff which was necessary by ‘reason of her caring for certain classes of patients at the hospital’, so states the writer of the Illustrated History of Skagit and Snohomish Counties, 1906, [pp 914-15.]

The first Everett Hospital on Broadway, 1902. Courtesy of the Everett Public Library Northwest Room

Electa Rossman Friday died at age sixty on April 21, 1916 having forever left her mark on the hospital business and education of nurses in Snohomish County. Her obituary refers to her as a ‘pioneer resident and well-known Nurse’, an overly simplistic description of a woman whose life in the service of others made a significant impact here and improved the operation of the Everett Hospital. It was she who changed the hospital management style from a twenty-five person management team that lacked both leadership and financial training to a hospital model that was structured and run as a business.

She was praised in her obituary as the person who ‘developed the institution to its present high standing’ while living a life that others could aspire to. But her life’s story lay there, waiting to be rediscovered and shared. A link no longer missing, but found, valued and placed in its rightful home among the great leaders in Human Services during the development of Snohomish County.

© 2006 Sandra Schumacher All Rights Reserved;  WLP Story Number 37 ~