Jo Eleanor Elliott, the former president of the American Nurses Association, died Sunday, May 1, 2011 at Boulder Community Hospital in Colorado. She was 87. Elliott served as the nursing group's president from 1964 to 1968 and was on hand when President Lyndon Johnson signed legislation creating Medicare as well as the Nurse Training Act to Aid Professional Nurse Education. The ANA was the one of the only major health care organizations that supported the creation of Medicare from the start. President Barack Obama acknowledged that when he thanked the ANA in June 2010 for its support of health care reforms he signed into law earlier that year. Obama recognized Elliott during that speech to the ANA, "for the courage and leadership she showed." Elliott also served as the nation's top nurse when she worked as Director of the Division of Nursing, United States Public Health Services at the Department of Health & Human Services from 1980 to 1989. Elliott was born Oct. 5, 1923 to E. Stanton & Kathryn (Knight) Elliott in La Monte, MO. She graduated as valedictorian from Warrensburg High School in Warrensburg, Mo in 1941. She attended Central Missouri State College from 1941 to 1943. She received her B.S. in Nursing from the University of Michigan School of Nursing in Ann Arbor, MI in 1947. In 1953, she received her M.A. in Nursing Education from the University of Chicago. Elliott taught at the University of Michigan before becoming an assistant professor and research nurse at the School of Nursing at UCLA. She later moved to Boulder, CO and became Director of the Western Council on Higher Education for Nursing, working there from 1957 to 1980. She was a visiting professor at selected universities including Loyola University in Chicago and the University of Texas at San Antonio, TX. She was a member of Sigma Theta Tau Society, the American Academy of Nursing (named a Living Legend in 1997) and received more than 30 awards and honors, as well as six honorary doctorates. She was also an active member of Community United Church of Christ. Elliott was preceded in death by her parents; a brother, Spencer, in 1978; and two sisters, Stella E. Clary in 1963 and Eloise E. Hall in 2002. Survivors include her younger sister, Zora Elliott Milne of Wheat Ridge, CO and eight cherished nieces and nephews and their families. A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m., Friday, May 6th, the first day of National Nurses Week, at the Community United Church of Christ, 2650 Table Mesa Drive, Boulder, CO 80305. A reception will follow the service at the church. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the J.E. Elliott Scholarship Fund, School of Nursing, University of Michigan, 400 N. Ingalls, Ann Arbor, MI 48109 or to the Community United Church of Christ, 2650 Table Mesa Drive, Boulder, CO 80305.
Published in Denver Post on May 4, 2011.