JANICE T. NIGHTINGALE M.D.
January 7, 1921 – June 16, 2018
Janice T. Nightingale M.D. died in Portland Oregon on June 16, 2018. As a physician, she saw the human body as a beautiful machine that eventually wears out. For her, at age 97, it did.
Born in 1921 and raised in New York City, she attended the innovative Hunter College High School and then Hunter College. She appreciated the all-female education there. The Commencement Speaker for her college graduation in 1942 was Eleanor Roosevelt. She majored in International Studies and Political Science, along with pre-med courses.
Major childhood illnesses and injuries, and lengthy hospital stays, contributed to her determination to become a physician. She applied for funding through the U.S Navy, but was rejected by a curt letter stating, “We do not accept women” and an enclosed brochure about the U.S. Navy Nurses Corps. She proceeded to enroll in New York Medical College at private expense. There she met her future husband Edward Joel Nightingale, whose medical studies were paid for by the U.S. Navy. He always maintained that she was smarter than him and deserved the scholarship more.
Janice and Edward married in 1946. She completed her internship and residency in Pediatrics. Their son Lewis was born in 1950 and daughter Margaret in 1952. The family moved to Scarsdale, where Janice conducted her medical practice out of a home office suite. She prided herself on establishing rapport with both kids and parents, retaining many patients through college, making house calls as needed, and patching up kids who crashed their sleds into the maple tree in the front yard.
In 1976, she and Edward closed their practices, sold their home, and moved into married student housing at U.C. Berkeley to pursue Master of Public Health degrees. From 1977 to 1982, she held roving pediatric screening clinics for children in Fresno County California. She learned enough Spanish to serve the families and to always compliment the parents on how beautiful their children were.
Janice and Edward retired in 1982, chose Portland Oregon as their base, and planned extensive world travel. Edward’s sudden death a few months later crushed her. He loved her until the day he died, and she loved him until the day she died. Inside their wedding rings was inscribed “til death do us part.”
In Portland, Janice devoted time to helping raise her grandsons Joel and Matthew, auditing courses at PSU, and volunteering in the community. Among the organizations that benefited from her work were the Citizen Review Board, Multnomah County Commission on Children and Families, Outside In, PSU, Sellwood Middle School, the Portland Art Museum, and Potluck in the Park. Her apartment on the Park Blocks was filled with books, artwork, and food.
Even as her health declined and she made necessary changes in her living situation, she continued to be curious about the world around her and to make new friends. She read the Sunday New York Times almost to the end. She loved to ask people “What are you doing for fun these days?” She was a huge worrier, who then delighted when most of her worries never materialized. She demonstrated resiliency and shared her wisdom. She will be greatly missed.
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