In memory of Geraldine Harrington

Gerry Harrington with studentGeraldine “Gerry” Harrington was born in the spring of 1924 to Royal Martin Wells and Velma Wells in Baker City, Oregon. She passed away at age 96 on August 17, 2020 in Milwaukie, Oregon.

In her early years the family lived near Alicel, Oregon. Gerry’s younger brother, Royal Omar “Roy,” was born in 1925. Their mother, Velma Wells, died in 1929 when Gerry was five years old and Roy was three. As their father could not operate the ranch and care for his small children, they went to live with their aunt and uncle, Elizabeth “Lizzie” and Rolland Thomas, and their son Harry “Seth” in Starkey, Oregon. In 1936 Gerry’s father remarried. Gerry and Roy returned to the ranch on Ruckman Road, near Alicel. Step-mother Matilda “Tillie” (Lester) Johnston, step-sister Faye Johnston, and step-brother Dalton Johnston joined the family. Two years later Gerry and Roy’s father, Royal Martin Wells, passed away.

Gerry boarded with the Howell Family in Imbler, Oregon during the week while attending Imbler High School and returned to the Wells Ranch on weekends and holidays. Following the death of their father, Gerry and her brother Roy came to live with another uncle and aunt, Harry “Texie” and Lillian Wells, on nearby Foothill Road. Gerry graduated from Imbler High School in 1941. She was Valedictorian of her twelve-member senior class.

She attended the St. Vincent Hospital/University of Portland nursing program, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1946. One of Gerry’s classmates, Dee Rennie Wallo, said, “During the war years, student nurses kept the hospital running, under the supervison of the nuns. At one time we had three-, four- and five-year students at St. Vincent. Low-income five-year students worked extra shifts to pay their tuition.” Gerry was one of those who worked extra shifts to complete her training.

Following graduation, Gerry was recruited to the Pocatello (Idaho) General Hospital School of Nursing, where she served as a Nursing Instructor from 1946–1947. She then moved to Hawaii to teach at St. Francis Hospital School of Nursing in Honolulu from 1947–1950. Gerry served in the U.S. Army Reserves from 1950–1954 as a nurse with the rank of First Lieutenant. In 1950 she returned to Oregon, where she taught in the Providence School of Nursing in Portland until 1953.

In October 1952 she married Alva Harrington and they settled initially in a small home in Middleton, Oregon. Their son Keith was born while they resided in Middleton. In December 1954, they moved to what became the Harrington Farm on Chapman Road near Sherwood, Oregon. Alva grew cherries, pears, prunes, and filberts. Further additions to the family included a daughter, Anne, and a son, Lee. Gerry was supportive of the children’s activities, leading Camp Fire groups and helping with Boy Scout activities.

Gerry with CCC Nursing StudentsIn 1957 Gerry resumed working as a registered nurse at Newberg Community Hospital. Positions included member of the operating room staff and Head Nurse in Obstetrics. In 1968, Gerry was the second faculty member hired for a new nursing program being established at Clackamas Community College in Oregon City. She taught at CCC from 1968 until her retirement in 1987. “To honor her contribution to student success, her colleagues started an endowment in her name. The Geraldine Harrington Endowment provides scholarships to nursing students who excel in the clinical setting and who possess a gift for delivering quality care.”

Gerry’s greatest joy was spending time with family and friends, especially her children and grandchildren. In 2017 Gerry moved from the family farm to Brookdale Senior Living in Newberg, where she resided until her health forced a change. In 2019 she moved to an adult foster home in Milwaukie.

Gerry was a member of the Sherwood United Methodist Church, where she was baptized in 1960 by Rev. Gerald Nelson. She held many positions on the local church board and was a member of the Sarah Circle. She headed a ministry of the church filling shoe boxes with school and hygiene items to be distributed to children by Northwest Medical Teams, now Medical Teams International.

She was a past member of the Oregon Nursing Association. In retirement she was a volunteer tutor in Sherwood grade schools with the OASIS program and was given the “Star Fish Award” for five years of service. Gerry was a member of the AV Chapter of P.E.O.

She was preceded in death by her husband Alva Harrington and her brother Roy O. Wells, step-sister Faye Lyons, and step-brother Dalton Johnston. Gerry is survived by her children: Keith Harrington and daughter-in-law Es Paras, Anne Watson and son-in-law Terry Watson, and Lee Harrington; by her grandchildren: Grant Watson, Kathryn Naegeli, Kari Evans, and Caiya Watkins; and by three great-grandchildren.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no memorial service will be held. Gifts in Gerry’s memory may be made to the Geraldine Harrington Nursing Endowment below or to Sherwood Helping Hands Food Pantry and annotated “Geraldine Harrington Memorial,” P.O. Box 686, Sherwood, OR 97140.

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