Dr. Elizabeth Hale Laidlaw, Staff 1948-1957
School Health Care Provider
Upon obtaining her undergraduate degree from Bryn Mawr, Elizabeth studied medicine at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. Her medical career was interrupted by marriage, tuberculosis, and the birth of her only son. Years later, after a divorce, she completed internship in California and moved to Tucson in 1942. The residence on Helen Street served as a pediatric clinic, base for house calls in an old Ford, family counseling and taking care of anybody in need during World War II, including service as town doctor in Benson and Flagstaff. In 1948, Dr. Laidlaw accepted an appointment by Dr. Robert Morrow, Superintendent of Tucson School District to become the first – and only – “school doctor.” Her responsibilities required supervision and further training of 26 school nurses as well as developing new school health programs. Her signature achievements included establishment of the school milk program – “milk is the perfect food” – in the early 1950’s and providing polio vaccinations with the new Salk vaccine a few years later. She actively sought participation and support from the business and professional community in a program to upgrade quality and availability of school lunches district-wide. Her programs helped to check the spread of infectious diseases and to direct afflicted children to capable medical caregivers in the community. She worked with Rollin Gridley at Tucson High School regarding team sports diet and conditioning methods. Her Interest extended to safety for the high school athletes as well. Dr. Laidlaw retired in 1957 due to budget cuts, after which she studied music at the University of Arizona. For many years she went weekly to the Veterans’ Hospital to play the piano and sing with the gentlemen who were confined there. During her career at the Tucson School District, she left an indelible legacy of improved health for students from the first through the twelfth grades.