Seattle Parks and Recreation remembers Dr. Blanche Seller Lavizzo

Photo courtesy of HistoryLink.org.

Photo courtesy of HistoryLink.org.

This February, to commemorate Black History Month, Seattle Parks and Recreation will be honoring some of the African American men and women who helped shape our city’s history for the better. There are 16 facilities in our parks system named for these leaders and throughout the month, we’ll be telling a few of their stories on our blog.

“Quality care with dignity.” That was the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic’s motto coined by Washington state’s first African American woman pediatrician, Dr. Blanche Seller Lavizzo.

Dr. Lavizzo moved to Seattle in 1956 and served as the first medical director of the Odessa Brown Children’s Clinic in Central Seattle. Lavizzo and her husband left medical practices in New Orleans in order to pursue careers in the Northwest.

Lavizzo’s colleagues said she was a great source of comfort for her patients and that she paid mind to small details, like ensuring the chairs in the clinic’s waiting room were comfortable.

In October 1991, the Yesler Atlantic Pedestrian Pathway was renamed the Dr. Blanche Lavizzo Park in honor of Lavizzo. The park is a narrow strip that connects S Jackson St. and E Yesler Way. Its many oak, poplar and other trees create a shady oasis in the middle of a busy urban area. The park also features a large grassy area with picnic tables, grills, a shelterhouse and a small amphitheater used for concerts and plays.

The children’s water feature at nearby Edwin T. Pratt Park is also named for Dr. Lavizzo. The feature was built by the community from 1994-1995 using a Neighborhood Matching Fund grant to hire African American artists. Designed with African motifs, the play area includes two water columns and three animal sculptures that spray water.