The oldest working registered nurse in the country turned 92 on Monday, and she celebrated by putting on her scrubs and going about her business at Tacoma General Hospital.
Florence “SeeSee” Rigney has been working as a nurse since 1946 and doesn’t know when she’ll give it up.
She’s tried before.
The first time was in 1958, when she and her husband adopted their first child, but she soon began filling in on an as-needed basis. Rigney returned full time when her husband died in 1977.
When she was 67, Rigney turned in her retirement papers, but took them back five months later. She found the 8-hour shifts twice a week kept her mind sharp and her second family at the hospital close.
On Monday, she and co-workers celebrated her birthday with a cake. One took a selfie with her and the cake, a photo that went “bonkers” when posted on Facebook, Rigney said.
“I always thought I’d come back and work, but I never thought I’d stay this long,” she told The News Tribune in 2013. “I’m really very blessed. My health is good and they want me to work.”Rigney said Monday that working keeps her busy and helps stimulate her mentally.
“I like the people I work with,” she said. Plus, “I really feel blessed that I able to help in the care of patients.”
Her supervisors said Rigney inspires co-workers with her spirit, work ethic and seemingly unstoppable energy.
“She runs circles around all of us,” Sheri Morris, assistant nurse manager, told TODAY.com. “She's a wealth of wisdom and knowledge, and we absolutely love her.”
Gov. Jay Inslee sent Rigney a birthday note in 2016 honoring her achievements and a proclamation congratulating her on being the nation’s oldest working nurse.
Rigney is a surgical nurse who sets up patient rooms, keeps track of supplies and assists patients onto the operating table.
A Fitbit she attaches to her uniform shows she walks 2 to 3 miles each shift, according to People magazine.
Although she gave up golfing and cross-country skiing years ago, she bustles around the hospital with the energy of a woman half her age.
Rigney keeps a photo of herself as a fresh-faced nursing student next to a vintage black-and-white snapshot of Tacoma General in her home.
The job has taken her to many cities, including Atlanta; San Antonio, Texas; and Cheyenne, Wyoming.