Women on the Front Lines

group photo during spring tea event

For nearly 40 years, three women supervised the day-to-day activities at Franke Tobey Jones:  Ada Gibson, Ann Bedrowsky and Genevieve Houston. FTJ Board Secretary, Margaret Long supported them.

Ada Gibson ~ 1874-1951

 Ada Gibson was the first Superintendent of the Restholme (1922) and became the Superintendent of Franke Tobey Jones (1924-1942). She helped to design the new building, furnish the rooms and smooth the transitions for the residents. In her Board Report for 1925-26, Mrs. Gibson reflected, “Today brings to a close the very shortest year in my life, perhaps because it has been the fullest… When I look around at our happy family of forty grown-up children ranging in age from seventy to ninety-two, I realize that every effort put forth to make them happy and contented has been worthwhile.”

Ann Bedrowsky ~(1884-1961)

 The second superintendent, Ann Bedrowsky, led FTJ from 1942-1954. In 1944, she reported that “During the past year, living conditions in the home have been and still are strenuous and somewhat hectic because of labor shortages, et cetera,… but we do have good meals in spite of or because of rationing foods and foodstuff shortages.” Upon her retirement, Miss Bedrowsky took up residence at FTJ although, like all residents, even she had to apply to live there.

Genevieve Houston ~ 1898—1975

Genevieve Houston worked as FTJ’s Administrator from 1955-1962. Previously, Mrs. Houston was a nurse, co-owner of a hospital in Ellensburg, superintendent of nurses at Pierce County Hospital and owner of Puyallup General Hospital. A Tacoma News Tribune profile in 1961 described her as “assured, dignified  and amazingly efficient.” Mrs. Houston noted, “Once you lose ambition, incentive or desire, you’ve had it. You have to have something on your mind, no matter how old you are.”

Margaret Long ~ 1892—1966

Margaret Long, a Tacoma civic leader active in many organizations, volunteered for more than forty years as the Secretary of the FTJ Board. She recorded meeting minutes; handled all correspondence for the Board Chairs, and dealt with multiple personal, personnel and confidential issues. Upon her death, Board Chair Frank Neal wrote, “No one ever was or, in my opinion, ever will be as devoted to the Home as Margaret Long.”


Fast forward to 2024, our Centennial year, and women still provide the enduring leadership at Franke Tobey Jones:

  • President/CEO – Judy Dunn
  • FTJ Resident Council Chair – Nancy Cook
  • FTJ Board Chair – Marcie Lazzari
  • Director of Admissions and Resident Relations – Michelle Olafson
  • Sr. Director of Marketing and PR – Christine Hall
  • Director of Philanthropy – Shelley Harris
  • Director of Life Enrichment – Heidi White
  • Director of Clinical Services – Sheila McDonough
  • Director of our 3 Senior Centers – Kate Gray
  • Our 2 resident Board members are women – Claire McCaffery Griffin and Pat Mail

We thank all the women of Tacoma who had the vision in 1921 to start a home for “the elderly,” to all the women (Circles and PEO) who for decades raised funds to keep Franke Tobey Jones running smoothly, and throughout the last century for strong women leadership.

For more information about our history and Centennial, go to

The attached photo from our Centennial Spring Tea features left to right

  • Phillis Gill, resident and past FTJ Board Chair
  • Nancy Cook, resident and Resident Council Chair
  • Pat Mail, resident and Resident Board member
  • Judy Dunn, President and CEO
  • Claire McCaffery Griffin, resident and Resident Board member
  • Marcie Lazzari, FTJ Board Chair
Categories: General