Sister Georgette Bayless, 83, remembers the time she strapped on leather chaps for her first motorcycle ride. "It was good," she said of...

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Sister Georgette Bayless, 83, remembers the time she strapped on leather chaps for her first motorcycle ride.

“It was good,” she said of her June 2004 ride with Dean Felthous, a planned-giving manager at the Providence General Foundation. “I sat on the back. We rode around small little towns around Everett, and we stopped and had Cokes and talked with people.”

The two were part of the Angel Ride for Hospice, an event featuring about 80 motorcyclists taking spins through Bothell, Monroe, Woodinville, Carnation and East Snohomish County’s back roads. The occasion was an annual hospice fundraiser for Providence Hospice & Home Care of Snohomish County, which Bayless founded in 1978.

Bayless repeated the ride with Felthous in July for the event, which has raised between $3,700 and $6,500 each year.

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On Sunday, she will celebrate her 60 years with the Sisters of Providence religious order at a cake, coffee and punch reception given by her friends in Everett. The free community party is scheduled for 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at Immaculate Conception Church, 2517 Hoyt Ave., Everett.

Since it was founded, Providence Hospice & Home Care, affiliated with the Sisters’ Providence Health System, has grown to cast a wide umbrella over the health needs of Snohomish County and Camano Island residents. The nonprofit’s staffing includes nurses, doctors, chaplains, social workers and home health aides.

The agency’s hospice side cares for about 260 patients and families a day, helping people stay in their homes until they die. It offers pain control, counseling and other assistance.


What: free community party with cake, coffee and punch

When: 1-4 p.m. Sunday

Where: Immaculate Conception Church, Mattie Hall, 2517 Hoyt Ave., Everett

Information: 425-261-4766

The home-care side serves about 350 patients a month with skilled nursing and therapy services aimed at returning people to their prior activities.

The agency has attracted new programs, too, such as Camp Erin, which was founded in 2000 by the Moyer Foundation. The free weekend camp for youth ages 6-17 helps them deal with grief and loss through recreation, art and storytelling.

November is National Hospice Month, which brings attention to what began as a national movement to provide quality care for patients at the ends of their lives and resulted in the founding of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization in 1978.

Sherri Pride, the director of Providence Hospice since 1997, said she is amazed at how the local group was started by Bayless and “a mixture of people that got together and saw the need.”

“From a little tiny agency, we’re now serving 260 patients a day,” Pride said. “I feel so passionate about the care we give and the journey we’re allowed to go on with people. The clinical staff, every day, receives gifts of stories and history from the people we serve.”

Moment of inspiration

Bayless, a registered nurse, was a chaplain at what is now Providence Everett Medical Center when the idea was born.

She recalled walking down a street and meeting a woman whose husband had died.

“I asked, ‘Who was with you?’ She said, ‘Nobody,’ ” Bayless recalled.

The moment was life-changing. “This cannot be,” Bayless said then.

She began talking with doctors and nurses, setting up a program and hiring the hospice’s first paid employee, Judy Hays, who continues as quality-management coordinator.

“Some of the nurses came in, the hospitals helped us financially, and pretty soon we got a director of the program,” Bayless said.

In addition, Bayless founded Providence hospital’s sexual-assault unit, which offers care and counseling. She received a Jefferson Award in 1981, one of the region’s highest volunteer awards.

Though Bayless eventually moved on to another mission, she never lost her ties with the Everett community.

“When she was here 15 years ago, she touched a lot of folks,” said Connie Wittren, director of development for Providence Hospice & Home Care. “We want to have a celebration that will allow folks to thank her for her years of service.”

Bayless looked back on the 60-year benchmark and said, “I feel gratitude and humility, gratitude at being able to work this long and humility at being part of God’s work in a very intimate way.”

She said one piece is still missing in the agency’s program: a 20-bed hospice-care center for the dying.

“We want to have a home for a person with no one to care for them. … That’s what we’re hoping and praying for.”

Now in Yakima, she retired as a registered nurse in 1995 and serves on several boards in Yakima: the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, the Yakima Valley Community Foundation, the Catholic Family & Child Service, the Interfaith Coalition and Foster Grandparents.

She also is a member of Zonta International, which advances the causes of women throughout the world, and Pax Christi USA, a Catholic peace movement.

She is looking forward to meeting old friends and making new ones at Sunday’s community party in Everett.

“We’ll have to sing ‘When the Saints Come Marching In,’ ” she said, laughing.

Diane Wright: 425-745-7815