Maxine Haynes, a nurse who broke racial barriers in her hometown of Seattle, has died at age 85.
Born Maxine Pitter to one of Seattle's early black families, she enrolled at the University of Washington in 1936 when there were fewer than two dozen black students on campus but was denied admission to the nursing school because of dormitory segregation. She earned a degree in sociology from the university in 1941.
After writing to many schools, Haynes was eventually admitted to a nursing school in New York. After completing her studies, she worked at Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital in New York as a sociologist and public health nurse before returning to Seattle in 1945.
There she applied for a nursing job at Providence Hospital and was hired, becoming the first black nurse at the facility, now known as Swedish Medical Center. There is now a nursing scholarship at the facility named for Haynes.
When she was hired at Providence Hospital she became "the Jackie Robinson of the nursing community," her pastor, the Rev. Clemens Pera of Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, told the Associated Press.
She moved to Los Angeles in 1953 with her first husband, Edward Davis, who was pursuing a musical career; then earned a master's degree from UCLA; became education director of the Nursing Association of Los Angeles; and taught at Mount St. Mary's College in Los Angeles.
She returned to Seattle in the late 1960s and was later appointed assistant professor of nursing at the University of Washington-the same school that decades earlier had refused her bid to become a nurse.
In 1976 Haynes became a full professor of community health nursing at Seattle Pacific University and began a summer work-study program for nursing students in Costa Rica. She remained active in that project after retiring in 1981.