TMC’s first baby has nearly 70 years worth of recollections

Tucson Medical Center is marking its 70th anniversary this year, commemorating the day its first patient was admitted, on Nov. 9, 1944.

The first baby born at Tucson Medical Center – Peter Erickson Godfrey – was delivered by Maj. Ralph Gause at 5:50 p.m. on Feb. 27, 1945 – the son of Janet and Chief Warrant Officer John Godfrey.  To commemorate the event, noted artist and Tucson resident Charles O. Golden painted a watercolor portrait of the mother and infant and presented it to TMC. That portrait has remained on display through the years, originally in the “Father’s Waiting Room” at Labor & Delivery and most recently in a case near TMC’s West Entrance with various historical artifacts. Godfrey Portrait

In honor of TMC’s 70th anniversary, TMC’s Baby #1 has offered a first-person tribute to his place of birth – in the words of Peter Erickson Godfrey:

 

It was almost the end of World War II. Marines had just gone ashore on Iwo Jima and the “Greatest Generation” was beginning to make the greatest population bump in U.S. history.  Tucson Medical Center and my parents, Chief Warrant Officer and Mrs. John R. Godfrey (Jack and Jenny) were eager to get it all started.

Their generation was full of surprises.  My parents learned of my middle name, Erickson, from the morning newspaper, the day after my birth.  The obstetrician, Major Ralph Gause of Davis-Monthan Field, and the president of the board of directors of TMC, the Rev. George Ferguson, named me Erickson, in honor of Mrs.

Jack, Janet and Peter Godfrey, with artist Charles Golden

Jack, Janet and Peter Godfrey, with artist Charles Golden

A.W. Erickson, who made a gift of a million dollars worth of land and buildings to create Tucson Medical Center. The beautiful, southwestern style Erickson home is in the middle of the TMC campus and still used by the hospital.

After my younger brother was born in 1947, my family moved on to various military bases across the country, but my parents loved Tucson and finally returned in 1952 to raise their four children and retire.  TMC continued to play a major role in our lives for the next 35 years.  Mom always wanted to be a nurse and after my father’s death she began working at TMC as a Nursing Assistant in Pediatrics.  When Mom retired from TMC in the summer of 1978, The TMC Spokesman featured both of us in front of our Mother’s Day 1945 portrait by Charles Golden, in an article called “A Portrait From The Past.” It symbolized the wartime Mother’s Day.

Janet and Peter Godfrey, at Janet's retirement in 1978

Janet and Peter Godfrey, at Janet’s retirement in 1978

It was also at TMC, a decade later on the morning of Dec. 25, 1987, that my sister, Sharon Wait, and I were at our mother’s side when she died after a short illness.  As stated in “A Portrait From The Past,” Janet Godfrey’s years of dedication to the hospital will surely be remembered in the pages of TMC history.

Tucson was a wonderful place to grow up.  We got into everything.  I especially enjoyed riding bikes with my friends to the top of Sabino Canyon and freewheeling it back down the narrow road and bridges, out of the canyon, trying not to scare the life out of snowbirds driving up the canyon.  I graduated from Rincon High School and started college at Northern Arizona University.  Several years later, I was called to serve in the Marine Corps: two years, two months and 22 days – but who was counting?

A week after leaving Vietnam, I was back attending classes at Northern Arizona University. Joyce Dalton of Tucson and I met at NAU and married in 1969. I went on to Graduate School at Arizona State University for my MSW and my wife began her teaching career. I enjoyed a career of 32 years in many different aspects of social work in New Mexico and Arizona.

Joyce and I raised two children, Jason Eric, born in 1973, and Beth Elaine, born in 1975.  Jason is teaching high school English and coaching soccer in Tempe and Beth is an ordained Presbyterian minister currently serving as a chaplain and studying at Georgetown University Hospital as a Supervisory Candidate to be certified by the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education.  She and Robert Romano will celebrate their first anniversary this October.  Now that Joyce and I are retired, we love to travel throughout the world and do volunteer work with both our church and community.

Tucson Medical Center and its staff have cared for my family for 70 years.  The enduring history of my parents and their four Godfrey Army Brats with TMC is remarkable.  We marvel at what you’ve accomplished.  Thank you for so many years of caring. Good luck in the next 70 years.

Peter Erickson Godfrey

 

Comments

  1. Linda Golden Kimble says:

    I was thrilled to see this story which includes a photo of my great uncle Charles Golden! We are from WV and had never heard this story or seen the painting. Thank you for sharing!

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