Woman who befriended many Walla Walla cancer patients dies at 96

Woman who befriended many Walla Walla cancer patients dies at 96
Courtesy of Providence St. Mary Medical Center 

WALLA WALLA, Wash. — A Walla Walla woman who became known for making friends with patients while living next to Providence St. Mary Medical Center has died at the age of 96.

“With great sadness, we say goodbye to our kind and loving neighbor, Irene Gleason, who passed away Nov. 6,” the medical center announced Friday.

A retired school teacher and librarian, Gleason lived by the St. Mary’s campus for decades. During that time, she took a special interest in cancer patients.

Gleason would meet cancer patients who lived next to her at the Herring House, a facility for Walla Walla Cancer Center guests and their family members, Providence St. Mary said in a Facebook post.

“She made friends with many patients with her easy manner, quick smile and an occasional gifts of roses from her garden,” the post said.

And her connection to Providence runs even deeper.

Her first teaching job was at Providence Academy in Vancouver, Washington and her mother was one of the first nursing aides at St. Mary Hospital.

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