Legacy of Eva Noles, Roswell Park Nurse Leader Recognized

The legacy of the first black nurse to train in Buffalo continues. The late Eva M. Noles, RN, had the distinction of being the first African-American staff nurse to be hired at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. During her 30-year career at Roswell Park, she served a leadership role and was recognized for her courage, dedication and compassion.

This year’s recipient of the scholarship that bears her name is Alexandra Francis, a senior at Buffalo State College. Ms. Francis expects to graduate in May 2017. She would like to continue the tradition of service to others established by Ms. Noles by teaching the importance of staying healthy while always striving for personal and professional goals. The Eva M. Noles Scholarship, established in 2009 by the Office of Diversity & Inclusion and the Office of Cancer Health Disparities at Roswell Park, is for minority students pursing degrees in health sciences.

Ms. Noles’ contributions to Roswell Park and to oncology nursing continue to be recognized today. The Institute commissioned a portrait of Ms. Noles by artist Suzi Zefting-Kuhn that now hangs at the entrance of the Gynecology Clinic of the new Scott Bieler Clinical Sciences Center. The portrait was officially unveiled on Wednesday, September 14, in the presence of Ms. Noles’ son and daughter-in-law, Tyrone and Coleen Noles, and granddaughter, Samantha Noles, as well as other dignitaries who were there to honor the contributions of this nursing pioneer.

Ms. Noles was a registered nurse and a life-long nursing educator. She became the first black staff nurse at Roswell Park in 1945. She also served as head nurse, instructor of nursing and Assistant Director of Nursing. In 1971, Ms. Noles was named Director of Nursing at Roswell Park, a role she served until her retirement in 1974.

Ms. Noles dedicated her life to nursing but also to community service and outreach. She served on many local and national committees, including the New York State Board of Nursing and the American Nursing Association. She founded New York State Nurses Week in 1970. For many years, Ms. Noles worked with the Negro Registered Nurses Club to provide scholarships and other financial assistance for young black women to study nursing.

Ms. Noles is remembered for her dedication and determination and continues to be an inspiration to others.

The Diversity Office at Roswell Park supports Roswell Park Cancer Institute’s mission, vision and values by promoting diversity and inclusion as an integral part of the Institute's goal to understand, prevent and cure cancer. For more information, contact David Scott at david.scott@roswellpark.org

By David Clarence Scott

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