A Passion for Overlake
Lorraine Weltzien’s Community Spirit Lives On
A parade of longtime friends and employees streamed through Lorraine B. Weltzien’s Overlake hospital room in the days before she passed away April 14. She was 91.
Pictured at right at the
hospital's 1959 ground-
breaking, Lorraine was one
of Overlake's founders.
The long-time Overlake champion spent her last 18 days in the same hospital she spent 61 years supporting and strengthening on behalf of Eastside neighbors.
Weltzien’s passion for Overlake was born in 1953, when as a nurse and young mother, she and a handful of other women formed the hospital’s first auxiliary – seven years before the first brick was laid. At the time, the Eastside had few doctors and no major medical services. Patients had to go to Seattle to have babies or any medical procedure.
United by the belief that the Eastside community needed its own hospital, she helped lead the grassroots and sometimes door-to-door campaign to establish Overlake. She and a neighbor formed the Fabiola Auxiliary in 1953, the first time in the nation a hospital auxiliary was formed before the hospital existed.
Weltzien served as the hospital auxiliary’s first president, started the hospital’s volunteer program in 1961 and would later serve eight years on the hospital’s board starting in 1984.
“She believed Overlake was an active part of the community,” says longtime Overlake employee Mark Forrest, Director of Outpatient Psychiatry and the Specialty School. “She knew contributing to Overlake’s success meant success for the entire community. She backed that up with thought and actions on a daily basis.”
Her son, Rob Weltzien, described his mother as an “exemplar of community spirit” who wanted everyone, regardless of income level, to be involved in the hospital. She was deeply interested in the forward movement of the hospital and was proud of its progress from a 56-bed hospital to a 349-bed regional medical center.
Weltzien never wavered in her enthusiasm and support of Overlake. She was the Auxiliaries Board Historian and was treasured and respected for her knowledge of Overlake’s beginnings.
“Lorraine's participation was such a joy and inspiration to us all,” said Phyllis Stark, current Auxiliaries president. “If I had a say, she would be St. Lorraine.”
Weltzien inspired countless gifts and believed no gift is too small when it comes to supporting Overlake. Her spirit lives on in the nearly 3,000 gifts Overlake receives every year.
“She was a legendary friend to Overlake,” says Barbara Berkau, Director of Patient Experience at Overlake. “She truly was committed to this hospital, the community, nursing and her family.”
Donors can honor Weltzien’s memory by donating to the Foundation’s Trailblazers Fund.