Valley Medical Center in Renton marks its long history with Legacy Wall

Valley Medical Center in Renton marks its long history with Legacy WallMore than 100 years of history, that's what Valley Medical Center unveiled to the community Thursday in presenting its new multi-media "Legacy Wall."
The 94-foot-long wall of etched stainless steel chronicles the history of the state's first public hospital district, health care in South King County, milestones in medicine and significant moments in history. Beginning in the 1900s and ending in December 2009, stories come to life in four video monitors, vintage photos and newspaper articles.
Community members filled the Winter Garden corridor, which connects the original hospital to the new South Tower.
Among those attending were Kent Mayor Suzette Cooke, Newcastle Mayor John Dulcich, Rep. Marcie Maxwell, Renton Technical College President Steve Hanson and previous and current members of the Valley Board of Commissioners.
Gary Faull thinks the "Legacy Wall" is wonderful. He is the son of Jerome Faull, who was a hospital commissioner from 1958 to 1965. He was one of the commissioners responsible for transitioning the Renton Hospital from its previous location at what is now McLendon's Hardware to its present location at 3915 Talbot Road S. in Renton.
Faull senior also helped select the famous architect Edward Durell Stone to design the hospital.
"During my dad's time on the board, they closed that hospital and retained an architectural firm to build the original hospital here," Faull said. "Of course, it's greatly expanded now, but it was a big deal back then because it was a brand new hospital."
He said his dad, who died 10 years ago, would be happy to see all of Valley's accomplishments commemorated in such a way and would probably celebrate with a martini.
Ninety-four-year-old Harriet Gruhn remembers her days of serving on the board in 1975. She served before any of the other commissioners at the event Thursday. One of the most important things she feels she did was get the reporters access to the board's agenda ahead of time because she didn't want the reporters coming in cold.
"It's just so good to see old friends here, that we've had this common interest in the hospital and it's been over so many years," Gruhn said. "It's just, it's a good feeling."
The "Legacy Wall" took about two years to create and was the idea of current commission secretary Don Jacobson. His children were born at Valley and he has worked in all of the buildings featured in the presentation.
"I felt the history of the hospital and where it had been. I think it's important for the community to know the role they've played over the years and how much it has grown and progressed," Jacobson said.
Valley CEO Rich Roodman gave the presentation, adding anecdotes about commissioners and facts about the hospital's development over the years. For example, Charolotte Kurth-Cooper, who was a commissioner from 1974 to 1996, was the only nurse on the board. And, car dealer J. Bowen Scarff was a commissioner in 1967-1973.
So what is Valley's legacy?
"I think this "Legacy Wall" will remind us that for 100 years we've had an outstanding contribution of health care and we have evolved as the health-care needs of the community have evolved," said Paul Hayes, Valley Medical's executive vice president. "And it will be a reminder not only for us here today, but for those that come behind us."
Photo caption: Karen Bliesner, daughter of deceased Valley Medical Center commissioner Rudolph H. Seppi, studies the "Legacy Wall" with her husband, Robert Bliesner. Seppi was a hospital commissioner 1947-1952. The wall depicting the medical center's long history was dedicated Thursday.
Photo credit: Tracey Compton/Renton Reporter

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