Madeleine Smith Fraley
West Seattle High School
Class of 1962
Madeleine Smith Fraley was a pioneer in modern medicine, in Washington State. She helped lead the way to greater access to more affordable health care via Physician Assistants (PA). Madeleine was one of the first Physician Assistants to practice in Washington State.
She joined the world renown Dr. Lester Sauvage’s Cardiovascular team at Providence Medical Center in Seattle in July of 1975. Madeleine’s career was primarily that of managing and caring for cardiovascular surgical patients from diagnosis, to hospital admittance, to discharge. She provided emergency treatment, maintaining continuity of care, assisting in surgery, supporting and collaborating with physicians and nursing staff in addition to comforting patients and families during extremely challenging times. She worked long hours and devoted her life-career to the patients. She loved her work.
Madeleine taught in the PA and Nurse Practitioner programs at the University of Washington where she had the opportunity to mentor pre-med students through the Heart Center Scholar Program at Providence Medical Center. She was devoted to and passionate about helping advance the Nurse Practitioner programs and its students.
After graduating from WSHS in 1962, Madeleine Smith went to a small Bible College in Seattle and married her life partner in 1963. In 1695 they moved to Illinois so her husband could continue his education in graduate school. She ultimately found a job working as an “institution worker” at Lincoln State School. That “school” was not one which educated youth. It was an asylum for “feeble-minded people” –their words, not hers—and was the largest home of its kind in Illinois.
Madeleine was hired to work in the pediatric ward after passing the Civil Service exam for the State of Illinois. Babies and non-ambulatory toddlers were in cribs lined up in rows: some asleep, some cooing, some crying. Some kicking legs and waving arms. Each had some deformity, some bizarre aberrancy that she had never envisioned in her sheltered life experience. Upon seeing all those babies with physical deformities that seemed ghastly and grotesque she promptly fainted onto the floor. It was not long before Madeleine could see beyond the deformities and defects. Each baby had a unique personality. She quickly learned what would make them smile, what would comfort them, and grew to love them.
In 2004 after 29 years of caring for cardiovascular patients she is now on another journey. Her beloved husband of 53 years has late stages of dementia. Madeleine has been a tireless pioneer and advocate of those suffering memory problems in Washington State. Madeleine Scott Fraley is still making a difference to this day.