A Founder of Mary Mahoney Professional Nurses Organization and Member for More Than 71 Years
MMPNO celebrates the life and legacy of the last of the thirteen founders of the Mary Mahoney Professional Organization, Rachel Suggs Jones Pitts, who passed away on Easter Sunday, April 4, 2021.
Ms. Pitts was 99 years old when she passed and, until recently, she lived alone in her Lakeridge home.
Her Lakeridge home was where MMPNO members and Ms. Pitts enjoyed an expansive drive-by birthday celebration for her 99th birthday in June 2020, with numerous cars, balloons, gifts and banners. Neighbors joined in the celebration. To surprise members, Ms. Pitts had wrapped take-home treats for each parade participant. But, that was typical of Ms. Pitts—always giving back to the communities she loved.
Ms. Pitts trained at Brewster School of Nursing and worked as a Registered Nurse in Freedman’s Hospital on the Howard University campus in Washington, D.C., before coming to Seattle.
In Seattle, Ms. Pitts was one of a small group of African American Registered Nurses who were the first to be hired in Seattle hospitals as Registered Nurses. Her employer, Harborview, was one of the first to welcome these nurses.
After obtaining her Bachelor’s degree in Nursing at the University of Washington, she held positions in progressively challenging public health programs. She was well known for her work in the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) program and the Genetics Counseling Project of Seattle Health Department.
During her career at the Seattle Health Department, the University of Washington requested and was granted over two years of her time to work on a special National Virus Watch project in UW Health Sciences.
After retirement, Ms. Pitts was a well-sought-after speaker on public health issues.
She never stopped serving the Central Area of Seattle, which she considered to be an underserved population that deserved our attention—as she often reminded MMPNO members at the monthly meetings she attended for 71 years of her life.
We heard the lesson. Above all, MMPNO members will never forget to serve our population and to provide scholarship assistance to students of African descent who plan to become Registered Nurses.
Her Legacy Lives One
We all admired Ms. Pitts and she inspired us to give our best to the health of the public. To express her appreciation of Ms. Pitts, Dr. Marla Salmon, a Professor of Global Health and former Dean of the University of Washington School of Nursing, sponsored her as a MMPNO Permanently Named Scholarship Endowed Member in remembrance of her commitment to equity and justice.
Ms. Pitts was very close to her thriving family, with a son, Matthew Jones (Seattle); two daughters, Lalonai Pitts Long (Seattle), and Cynthia Ransom and her husband Jesse (Dallas, Texas); and her beloved grand and great grandchildren.