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G. N. Wilcox Memorial Hospital Administrator Elizabeth H. Middleton

  • Elizabeth H. Middleton

Born in New Jersey, Miss Elizabeth H. Middleton, R. N. (1899-1996) was the G. N. Wilcox Memorial Hospital administrator for 23 years, from 1944 until her retirement in 1967.

Before arriving in Hawaii in 1929, she’d earned her R. N. degree in New York City and had completed post-graduate work at Cleveland City Hospital.

From 1929 to 1934, she was with the Pepeeko Sugar Co. Hospital on the Big Island, and also did graduate work at the Peking Union Medical College, China, prior to becoming director of nurses and X-ray technicians at the Puumaile Hospital in Hilo from 1936 to 1944.

As administrator of G. N. Wilcox Memorial Hospital, which was built in 1938 to replace Lihue Hospital and was named in honor of Kauai sugar pioneer and philanthropist George Norton Wilcox, Middleton was effective and decisive.

She also enjoyed an excellent working relationship with the hospital’s trustees, particularly educator and legislator Elsie Wilcox, health care pioneer Mabel Wilcox, and Grove Farm Sugar Plantation president Gaylord Wilcox, as well as their nephew, banker and Grove Farm executive Sam Wilcox.

In a 1982 interview she voiced her impressions of siblings Elsie, Mabel and Gaylord Wilcox:

“My experience with Miss Elsie was that she was a dominant person. At board meetings, Miss Mabel spoke of monetary things but never attempted to interfere in anything else that Miss Elsie had to say. She never disagreed with her – if she disagreed, she never made any murmur on the subject, nor did Gaylord. After Elsie’s death, the other two were quite outspoken about things – it was really quite amazing.

“Miss Mabel did a lot of very nice things for the employees. But nobody ever knew about them. When there were parties at the hospital, Christmas parties and that type of thing, she made contributions to them.

“Mabel took particular interest in the hospital’s nurses. All eleven nurses first hired were graduates of hospital schools. Two Kauai women, Sueko Yamaura, R.N. and Martha Kumabe, R. N., had been trained at Queen’s Hospital.”

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Hank Soboleski has been a resident of Kauai since the 1960s. Hank’s love of the island and its history has inspired him, in conjunction with The Garden Island Newspaper, to share the island’s history weekly. The collection of these articles can be found here: https://bit.ly/2IfbxL9 and here https://bit.ly/2STw9gi Hank can be reached at hssgms@gmail.com

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