Historic inductee

Sister Peter Claver is named to Spokane Citizen Hall of Fame

Sr. Peter Claver Thomas in 1986 with a model of the new Sacred Heart Medical Center campus.

Sister Peter Claver, former president and chief executive officer of Sacred Heart Hospital, was one of four 2017 historic individuals inducted into the Spokane Citizen Hall of Fame at a breakfast on May 2 at The Davenport Hotel in Spokane. The Spokane Citizen Hall of Fame, sponsored by the Spokane Public Library Foundation and the City of Spokane, recognizes individuals, both living and deceased, who have made significant contributions to Spokane. Other historic inductees were attorney and civic leader Ned M. Barnes (1936-2011), architect Kirtland Cutter (1860-1939), and Aubrey Lee White (1869-1948), considered “the father of Spokane parks.”

Name denotes strength

Sister Peter Claver (1916-1991) was born in Terry, Mont., as Lucille Thomas and began her career as a registered nurse in Great Falls, Mont., in 1938. She joined the Sisters of Providence in Seattle in 1939, choosing the name Peter Claver because she felt it signified strength.

Sr. Peter Claver meets with Sacred Heart administrators, including Gerald Leahy, associate administrator seated at her left, ca.1970.

After completing her studies at the novitiate, she went back to work and also furthered her education. She worked as a nurse in a number of locations and later completed a bachelor’s degree in nursing education from Gonzaga University and a master’s degree in hospital administration from St. Louis University. Sacred Heart Hospital appointed her as administrator in 1964. Under her direction, Sacred Heart expanded its budget from $7.4 million to $148 million, undertook three major building projects and increased the number of employees from 900 to 3,000.

Sr. Rosalie Locati (left), joined by Sr. Peter Claver’s niece Leslye, accepts the honor at the Spokane Citizen Hall of Fame breakfast.

Desired to help the sick

Her primary goal throughout her life was helping sick people. Sister Peter Claver also was inducted in the 2002 Business Hall of Fame by the Journal of Business, Junior Achievement of the Inland Northwest and the Rotary Club of Downtown Spokane. Her many awards and recognitions include being named in 1985 by Savvy Magazine as one of the country’s top 12 women executives in a non-profit organization, and receiving a papal honor from the Catholic Church in 1988. She also was awarded the DeSmet Medal, the highest honor given by Gonzaga University, in 1972.

A key to the City of Spokane was presented along with induction into the Spokane Citizen Hall of Fame.

Sister Rosalie Locati accepted the key to the City of Spokane on May 2 on behalf of Sister Peter Claver with the following words:

On behalf of the Sisters of Providence and the Thomas family, I am pleased to accept this honor bestowed on Sister Peter Claver Thomas. Although her 95-year-old brother, Ed, is unable to attend, her nephew Tim, niece Leslye and husband are here this morning, as are several Sisters of Providence. Sister Peter Claver was well known as a hospital and civic leader in our community. Her stature of dignity, integrity and compassion were hallmarks of her service, ministry and business acumen. Those of us who knew Sister personally, as religious community members, family and friends, were aware of her deep faith and prayer life, love of her religious community, and dedicated and relentless commitment to care for the poor and vulnerable. She had a great sense of humor, was an accomplished card player, and a successful and dedicated fisher woman. Anyone who spent time with Sister Peter Claver was impacted by her down-home Montana presence.

Sr. Peter Claver

Among the Providence folks who attended the Spokane Citizen Hall of Fame breakfast to applaud the honor for Sister Peter Claver were (from left) Ann Hurst, Providence Health Care (PHC) Chief Officer: Mission Integration; former Sacred Heart Medical Center board member Paul Redmond; Sister Rosalie Locati, Sacred Heart Sister Resource: Mission Heritage; Elaine Couture, PHC Regional Chief Executive; Greg Hamad and his wife Leslye, Sister Peter Claver’s niece; Tim Thomas, Sister Peter Claver’s nephew; and Sisters Dorothy Byrne, Barbara Schamber and Jo Ann Showalter.

This key will be a reminder for all Providence Health Care leaders and caregivers to live and serve the Providence mission and values in our community, as Sister Peter Claver so aptly modeled for us. We are grateful to the Spokane Public Library Foundation and the City of Spokane for bestowing this prestigious honor upon Sister Peter Claver Thomas as a 2017 Inductee into the Citizen Hall of Fame.

Also honored at the breakfast was Rich Hadley, former president and CEO of Greater Spokane Incorporated for more than 20 years, who received the Elson S. Floyd Community Impact Award. Other inductees to the Spokane Citizen Hall of Fame were named in the categories of Arts and Letters, Economic Development and Business, Education, Innovation and Leadership, Public Service and Philanthropy, and Science, Health and Medicine.

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