Tacoma Woman, Oldest Working Nurse In America, Retires At 96

By Zuri Anderson

July 21, 2021

America's oldest working nurse is hanging up her scrubs after more than 70 years of bringing smiles to patient's faces.

KIRO 7 learned 96-year-old Florence "SeeSee" Rigney's last day with MultiCare Health System was Friday (July 16), and co-workers and executives saw her off with balloons, flowers, and plenty of hugs.

β€œI don’t like to sit around – I’ve always got to have something to do. That’s my nature,” Rigney said. β€œI don’t know exactly what made me want to become a nurse, but it was something that I always wanted to do. I love to interact with patients and give them the help that I can.”

Rigney began her career as a student nurse at Tacoma General School of Nursing. Penicillin had just been introduced at the time she started her studies. Throughout her career, she has worked across the country with short breaks to raise her two children.

She was an operating room nurse before her retirement, meaning she would prepare patients for surgery and set up rooms as surgeons specified.

If it's one thing co-workers remember about the longtime medical professional, it's that she's quick on her feet.

β€œEven working into her nineties, SeeSee has never been one to slow down. Some of her colleagues joked that they had to sprint to keep up with her,” said Laureen Driscoll, president of MultiCare Tacoma General and Allenmore Hospitals.

Rigney said she's looking forward to enjoying time with her family and friends, but that's not the end of her legacy.

The MultiCare Health System established the SeeSee Rigney Nursing Endowed Scholarship Fund, which will provide money to MultiCare nurses looking to continue their education and development, or MultiCare employees who want to pursue a career in nursing.

β€œShe’s continued to be a dedicated nurse and an incredible resource to her colleagues and community. It’s humbling to stop and think about the thousands and thousands of lives she’s cared for," Driscoll said. "Everyone at MultiCare thanks SeeSee for her unmatched dedication and service, and we’re proud to honor her by supporting tomorrow’s future nurses."

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