Eunice Cole, BSN, RN’s career of more than forty years in nursing is filled with numerous honors and recog­ni­tion. She’s well-known for her calm, steady and skillful leader­ship under pressure, both as a nurse admin­is­trator in acute and long term care settings and as an associ­a­tion leader and polit­ical activist in WSNA and ANA. Over the years, She has held numerous nursing roles in a variety of settings.

Eunice received her Nursing Diploma from St. Joseph School of Nursing in Bellingham, Washington and later received a BSN from the Univer­sity of Washington. After gradu­a­tion she worked as a staff nurse and clinical instructor until 1965 when she became the Director of Nursing Services at St Luke’s General Hospital, a position she held until 1976. An early nurse entre­pre­neur, Eunice opened her nurse-owned surgical supply and home care center in Bellingham, which she ran for twelve years before becoming a Director of Nursing in long term care.

Eunice was also active in her Bellingham commu­nity serving on the Whatcom County Emergency Medical Services Council for five years, the Whatcom County Health Advisory Board for ten years, as an advisor to the Western Washington Univer­sity Nursing program for ten years and advisor to the Bellingham Practical Nursing Program for nearly 25 years.

Eunice held a number of District and WSNA positions before being elected as WSNA First Vice-Presi­dent from 1972 – 1974 and as WSNA Presi­dent from 1974 – 1976 – a tumul­tuous period in WSNA history during which the Taft Hartley amend­ments assuring collec­tive bargaining rights to nurses were imple­mented. As presi­dent of WSNA, Eunice faced great pressure from nurse admin­is­trator colleagues and her own hospital administration.

However, even at the risk of her own job, Eunice calmly stood her ground and continued to advocate for staff nurse involve­ment in decision-making and their right to bargain for wages, hours and working condi­tions. She provided an exemplary role model for other managers and direc­tors of nursing, contin­uing her active role in WSNA and refusing to be intim­i­dated by this pressure. This won her great respect and admira­tion of nurses in all roles. In 1976, WSNA awarded Eunice the ANA Honorary Recog­ni­tion award for her outstanding leader­ship and contri­bu­tions to WSNA..

Eunice was elected to a four-year term on the ANA Board of Direc­tors in 1978 and served as Chair­person of the ANA-PAC. Eunice was elected Presi­dent of the American Nurses Associ­a­tion in 1982. Eunice’s leader­ship contri­bu­tions as ANA presi­dent are perhaps best described by Dr. Judith Ryan who was the ANA Execu­tive Director during the four years Eunice was president.

Dr. Ryan writes, I don’t know if anyone but the ANA Exec will ever know the scope of the work that Eunice did as Presi­dent of ANA for those four years. The framing of the ANA Feder­a­tion, the intro­duc­tion of the Refer­ence Committee Process, the devel­op­ment of the national Tri-Council, the orches­tra­tion of the National Commis­sion on Nursing Imple­men­ta­tion Project, the reten­tion of New York State as a member of ANA, the enact­ment of Commu­nity Nursing Organi­za­tions, building of the founda­tion for the National Insti­tute of Nursing, the matura­tion of the ANA PAC and polit­ical action network, creation of a superb model for the ANA Speaker role, reestab­lishing the working relation­ships with National Feder­a­tion of Specialty Nursing Organi­za­tions, and her solid inter­na­tional leader­ship.” These were all accom­plished in typical Eunice style – calm, focused, steady and always with the right amount of humor.

Even while fulfilling the enormous demands of the ANA presi­dency, Eunice continued to be involved in Washington State and WSNA and her contri­bu­tions were frequently recog­nized. In 1981, she was appointed to a two-year term on the Washington State Board of Health. In 1982, the mayor of Bellingham and the Whatcom County Execu­tive proclaimed Eunice Cole Day” in her honor. In 1983 she received Honorary Recog­ni­tion by the Washington State Legis­la­ture and later that year, she was proclaimed Business Woman of the Year by the Whatcom Women in Business organization.

Now in semi-retire­ment, Eunice enjoys gardening and being a grand­mother and continues an active role in nursing associ­a­tion activ­i­ties, serving as an honorary trustee of the American Nurses Founda­tion, the ANA advisor and honorary member of the National Student Nurses Associ­a­tion and honorary member of the American Associ­a­tion of Critical Care Nurses.