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Agnes Bartlett Curtis

Born in 1901, Agnes Bartlett Curtis accompanied her orthopedist stepfather, Dr. Ralph Fitch, and her volunteer nurses aide mother to France in 1914 for service in World War I. Mature for her age, and needed, she served that hospital for five years, and began a lifelong association with medical institutions. Returning to Rochester in 1920, she served RGH as a volunteer in the Eye Clinic, the Well Baby Clinic, and then the old Westside Division Emergency Department two days each week for twenty years.

Agnes married Edward Peck Curtis, Sr., a WWI flying ace and future vice-president of Eastman Kodak in 1924. With the onset of World War II, the Curtis family returned to military service. Mr. Curtis became Major General Curtis, serving Dwight Eisenhower, and Mrs. Curtis became administrative assistant of the Eastern Area American Red Cross. Mrs. Curtis organized, trained, and placed volunteer nurses’ aides in nursing services weakened by the departure of personnel for military service. When she arrived, 400 aides had been placed. When she departed at war's end, 40,000 had been placed.

Returning to Rochester, she resumed volunteer service to Rochester General Hospital, as had her mother and sister. Weekly service to the Emergency Department continued from the forties through the eighties. She became president of the Women's Board, as had her mother and sister and she became the first woman representative to the Board of Directors in the 100 year history of the institution.

In 1984 Mrs. Curtis was the recipient of an Award of Merit from the Rochester Academy of Medicine for meritorious volunteer community achievements. The following year Rochester General Hospital's Foundation honored her with its Second Founders Society award for over 70 years of volunteer service. After a long life of community dedication Agnes Bartlett Curtis died at the age of 96 after an extended illness. A reception area in the J. Raymond Hinshaw Medical Education Center and a conference room in the Emergency Department are named for her (courtesy Robbie Baltzer and William A. Africano, MD)