The Best Place to Have a Baby in Yakima - for more than 70 Years
Beverly Ann Dawson was born at 2:16 a.m., Wednesday, June 21, 1950. 9 pounds, 13 ounces. Brown hair, blue eyes. 10 fingers, 10 toes. She was the second child of Margaret and Maynard Dawson.
At that moment, Baby Beverly became a bonafide celebrity. Beverly Ann Dawson was the first baby born at Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital. She arrived just one day after the hospital opened, on June 20.
Beverly has always gotten a kick out of her early moment of fame.
"Throughout my life," she says, "if the opportunity came up, I would be sure to mention that I was the first baby born here, whether I was visiting here or if I was a patient!"
Beverly's birth caused quite the stir around town.
The newspapers covered her birth with stories, photographs and two full pages of advertising: "Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital's first baby was born at 2:16 a.m., Wednesday, June 21 to Mr. and Mrs. Maynard E. Dawson, 1104 Broadway, Yakima. Because Beverly Ann was the first born in the new hospital, she has several fine presents awaiting her at the establishments whose names appear on this page."
One of those gifts was a tiny gold ring from Dunbar Jewelers.
We caught up with Beverly recently to see how she's been doing over the past 70 years. We didn't have to look far. Beverly and her husband, Phil, live a just few miles west of the hospital. And, yes, she still has the tiny gold ring.
"Yakima was really a small town back then.
"We played with all the neighborhood kids, we went out for Halloween all over the neighborhood and nobody worried. I was also in Bluebirds," Beverly recalls.
"As teenagers, we went to miniature golf and the movies, that's what we did. I would also go to the grange with my aunt and uncle when they had dances."
After graduating from Davis High School in 1968, Beverly struck out for the big city. "Two days after graduation I got on a train with my babysitting money and went to Seattle. I needed to support myself because there were no opportunities here. I moved in with my sister who just had a baby. I helped her and got a job at A&W Root Beer as a car hop."
But most of Beverly's working life was spent with the United State Post Office, a job she got when a friend suggested they go down to the local office and sign up for the entrance test. "We took it and I got right in. At 18 I went to work at the post office."
Not long after, Beverly returned to Yakima to see her family. That's when she met the man who would become her husband, Phil Mattoon. At one point, Beverly was the postmaster in Leavenworth, commuting home to Yakima on weekends. She finished her career as postmaster in Moxee.
Phil and Beverly have been married 49 years now. The couple has enjoyed an active life together: running, skiing, biking, and, in later years, walking the Greenway every day. "In 1989 we ran the London Marathon. And for our 25th anniversary we followed the Tour de France for three weeks.
"We also really like to go to the Oregon beaches. And we love to ride trains, we've done that in Europe. We love the steam train in Elbe, too. But what I really want to do now," she says with an eye to the future, "is ride the train across Canada. I hear it's beautiful."
Beverly's passion is for animals. Always has been. "Everybody who knows me knows I rescue animals," she says. "I have rescued animals my whole life, ever since Phil and I have been married."
Over the years, Beverly, being the local celebrity that she is, has found herself in the news from time to time.
She was featured in the Yakima Herald shortly after her birth with two other newborns, all in the hands of smiling YVMH nurses. On June 18, 1958, the Yakima Republic ran a photo of 8-year-old Bev pointing to her birthday on a big calendar. And, on Dec. 4, 1971, a 21-year-old Beverly is shown in the Herald-Republic digging up the first shovelful of earth at the groundbreaking for a $3.4 million hospital addition.
Beverly's start in life at Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital certainly was one for the record books. And over the years since, fitness, health and caring for others have been important parts of that life.
"I'm pretty healthy and happy overall," she says. "I haven't eaten red meat since 1979. And I have never worried about age. I think it's all how you feel."
Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital was conceived in 1943 and born on June 20, 1950.
Ed Mueller, a local accountant, brought his daughter, Carol, to St. Elizabeth's because she was suffering the effects of polio. Her parents were unable to remain in the room with her due to overcrowding. Carol passed away without them. This was the catalyst to build another hospital in Yakima. The hospital remains just as committed to its community as when the doors opened almost 70 years ago. Today, with more than 3,000 employees, Yakima Valley Memorial is the largest nonprofit employer in the Yakima Valley.