GREENEVILLE, TN – When Everett Coolidge and his wife, Carolyn, head south this month to move closer to their children, a large piece of Takoma Adventist Hospital’s history will go with them.
Mr. Coolidge, now 87, is a former administrator at Takoma and son of Dr. L.E. Coolidge, the founder of the hospital.
In her youth, Mrs. Coolidge trained at the now-defunct Takoma School to become a registered nurse, and then worked at the hospital for several years.
Both Mr. and Mrs. Coolidge have collectively served as volunteers at the hospital for nearly 43 years.
The Coolidge family even has a street named after them, adjacent to the hospital.
The Coolidges are moving to the Orlando, Fla., area later this month to live near two of their three sons.
A special reception will be held for the Coolidges on Thursday, Feb. 17, from 4-6 p.m. in the Volunteer Conference Center on the Takoma campus. It is open to the public.
“We’ll miss the area, but we’ll be back to visit,” Mr. Coolidge promised.
“We already planning to come back later this year,” Mrs. Coolidge added, laughing.
The Coolidges will miss the different seasons, the friendly people, and the picturesque scenery this area offers, Mrs. Coolidge said. “It has been part of our lives for so many years, but it will be very nice to be with our family, too,” she said. “They’re anxious for us to be there and that makes us feel good. At our ages, although we are in reasonably good health, we know the move is a smart thing to do.”
The Coolidge’s relocation has left many at Takoma with mixed feelings – deep sadness to see them go, yet great happiness for them as they enter this new exciting phase of their lives.
“Mr. Coolidge and his family mean so much to Takoma for so many reasons,” Carlyle Walton, president and CEO of Takoma, said. “We are all so very thankful for their family and what it has meant to Takoma and this area. We will miss them terribly, but wish them much happiness in Florida.”
Linda Kirk, director of Takoma’s volunteers, said she personally will miss their warmth and wisdom. “I told them that I miss them already, and they haven’t even left yet,” Kirk said. “They have just a wealth of history between them. Everett is not only intelligent, he’s wise. And, when you look up Southern Belle in the dictionary, you see a picture of Carolyn. It’s a great loss for our area.”
Dr. James Ray McKinney, a family practice physician with the Medical Group of Greeneville, said he will miss the Coolidges, but understands their need to be near family. “He’s almost 88 and she’s almost 87,” Dr. McKinney noted. “They need to be near their family. They don’t have any family in Greeneville.”
The Coolidge’s move will leave a void in this area, Dr. McKinney said. “The Coolidge name has been associated with healthcare in Greeneville since 1926,” he said. “Everett came here as a young boy and grew up here. He later was president of the hospital. He is known as a man associated with Takoma.”
Mrs. Coolidge quickly formed ties of her own, Dr. McKinney noted. “Carolyn came here in 1936 as a young girl from Macon, Ga., to begin studying nursing,” he said. “She graduated through the nursing school and became an RN. She has worked in the hospital through the years and made a large contribution to the success of the hospital.”
A long family history
Mr. Coolidge’s relationship with Takoma was inevitable, since his father was the very founder.
Dr. Coolidge first came to Greeneville in 1925 with Dr. Harry Miller from the Washington Sanitarium in Takoma Park, Md., to perform day-long surgeries during three separate trips to a medical facility run by Mr. and Mrs. Roy Bowen called “Branch of Takoma Park Sanitarium.” Struck by the need for quality healthcare, Dr. Coolidge moved here later that year.
By January of 1926, he had bought the facility. Dr. Coolidge also formed a nursing school for registered nurses called the Takoma Hospital & Sanitarium Training School, Inc.
When they built the new hospital at its current site in 1927, they started with 40 beds. The hospital, which officially opened in 1928, was called Takoma Hospital and Sanitarium.
In 1936, the hospital changed to non-profit status and built an addition known as the Sanitarium.
By 1948, the hospital had added on again, now featuring a total of 78 beds. Additions continued steadily at Takoma, up to present day.
Takoma currently is in the midst of a needed campus enhancement project that will conclude with the opening of a renovated and expanded Emergency Center, and a new medical office building. Takoma recently debuted its new surgical center, a new and expanded birthing center, and an increased capacity of 34 private rooms on the medical-surgical floor.
Today, Takoma is a 108-bed, not-for-profit hospital with more than 75 staff physicians and more than 400 associates, working together to provide professional and compassionate healthcare.
“Takoma Hospital will always be a prime interest of ours,” Mrs. Coolidge said. “We shall keep memories close to our hearts. To Mr. (Carlyle) Walton (CEO of Takoma), the staff and each employee, we wish happiness, good health and continued success in providing excellent healthcare to an outstanding community.”