MILDRED SEBBAS SMITH
The information below has been compiled from a variety of sources. If the reader has access to information that can be documented and that will correct or add to this woman’s biographical information, please contact the Nevada Women’s History Project.
At A Glance:
Born: June 30, 1910
Died: Jan 29, 1999
Maiden Name: Mildred Wicks
Race/Nationality/Ethnic Background: Caucasian
Married: Arthur C. Sebbas (first husband), John E. Smith (second husband)
Children: Leroy (Roy) V. Sebbas
Primary City and County of Residence and Work:
Lovelock (Pershing County)
Major Fields of Work: Hospital administrator
Other Roles: Mother, Community and Medical Activist, Surgical Nurse, and Facilitator.
Mildred Wicks Sebbas Smith, one of the first Nevada woman hospital administrators, lived in Northern Nevada for more than 60 years. A past president, trustee and life member of the Nevada Hospital Association, she was also a community and medical activist.
Born in Paris , N.Y. to Harry Staples and Emily Eliza (Arnold) Wicks on June 30, 1910 , she grew up in Paris and Utica, N.Y. She received her registered nursing degree from at Utica Memorial Hospital in 1931. A dedicated nurse, she began her private nursing career in Sauquoit New York , before she came to Nevada in 1931 where she married her first husband, Arthur C. Sebbas on June 11, 1938 . The couple settled in Lovelock where she immediately became an active in the medical community. The couple had a son, Leroy (Roy) V.Sebbas.
At the old Pershing General Hospital she helped deliver many of the town’s babies becoming acquainted with both them and their mothers throughout her life. Her sister, Mary, school librarian, also came to Lovelock and was married to Arthur’s brother, Eric.
After Mildred was licensed as a registered nurse in Nevada she was a private-duty nurse at Pershing General Hospital from 1931 to 1942. In 1942 she became surgical nurse at the hospital. The growing town had two medical doctors who took care of most of the patients in the county. Mildred was friends with both and the hospital prospered. Her working relationship with the doctors was respected throughout the state. According to an article in the local paper, “During World War II, several nurses in the community were determined to keep their hospital operational…. Like other small hospitals serving rural Nevada , the facility was vital to the community.”
In 1945 the local hospital board appointed her as administrator partly because of her ability to mediate hospital procedures and issues. She insisted that every member of the staff be well educated even prior to the establishment of the present state regulations for continuing education for hospital personnel. Upon her administrator’s appointment, she suggested modernization techniques for the old hospital building. With the help of community leaders, Mildred was able to secure a grant from the Fleischmann Foundation for supplementation of a new hospital building fund. She and board members worked hard seeking funds to complete the project. It was under her administration that present hospital and nursing home construction began in 1961. Thus in 1962 after federal inspection, the new modern $800,000 facility was opened.
The Joint Commission on Accreditation (JCA) of Healthcare Organizations accredited the hospital and nursing home. The JCA primarily accredited larger hospitals. She was able to keep this accreditation throughout her administration.
She organized the staff at the hospital under the board of trustees’ supervision. Even when she was correcting staff members, a small impish grin appeared on her face letting the offender know she would work with the person.
Working with the Pershing General Hospital Auxiliary (Pink Ladies) and the Candy Strippers, she supervised decoration of the rooms so the rooms’ décor was suited to the type of patient. For example, the pediatrics room was decorated with animal designs and calming colors to help children feel the secure coziness of the area. Both organizations raised funds for this project.
For many years, she was the primary facilitator between Lovelock service clubs and the hospital. She worked with various community clubs to furnish individual hospital and nursing home rooms to promote tranquility for the patients.
She was a co-chairman for Alcoholics Anonymous and the Pershing County Drug Abuse Council. After she retired, the hospital contracted for an alcohol and drug abuse rehabilitation center for several years.
She served as president for the Western Nevada Hospital Assn. in 1961-1962. She was a past president of Soroptimist International of Lovelock and served in various other offices including director. She was also a life member of the organization and was memorialized at the group’s regional convention. She was also active in Beta Sigma Phi Social and Service Sorority, the United Methodist Church as a lay leader and the Republican Party.
Her first husband died in 1968. After her 1974 retirement, she moved to Sparks and was active in St. Paul Episcopal Church. She married her second husband, John E. Smith. She died at her Sparks residence on Jan 29, 1999 .
Written and researched by Carol M. Clanton, neighbor of Mildred Smith. Posted to the NWHP Website April 2007.
Sources of Information:
- Mildred Sebbas, Lovelock Review Miner , Lovelock, NV. Volume 95, No. 5, February 4, 1999.
- Mildred Sebbas, Lovelock Review Miner, Lovelock, NV. November 4, 1999 , p.5.
- Marquis Who’s Who (Ed), Who’s Who of American Women, 9th edition 1975-1976, Marquis Who’s Who, Inc, Chicago IL, p.799.
- Interviews with Mildred Sebbas 1971, 1978, 1985 with Carol Marshall.