Gail Larson, former Providence CEO, helped the hospital grow

After she retired, she continued to work behind the scenes to improve the hospital she once ran.

Gail Larson

Gail Larson

EVERETT — Gail Larson, who rose to top leadership posts at large hospitals in three states and played a key role in setting the groundwork for the high-rise expansion of Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, has died.

Larson died May 25 in the Everett hospital she once ran from complications following heart surgery. She was 76.

Friends and former co-workers said Larson will be remembered for looking out for society’s most vulnerable, giving staff independence to do their jobs and for being easy to approach.

“Gail was an incredible pioneer and innovator in health care who cared deeply and advocated tirelessly for those whose needs were greatest,” said Rhoda Weiss, a national health care consultant, colleague and family friend for more than 40 years. “She was the most down-to-earth executive who touched so many lives, mentored countless individuals and demonstrated care and compassion for everyone she met — the true definition of the best there is in leadership.”

Larson, a Washington native, graduated from the University of Washington with her husband, Jack. They were married for 57 years and made their home in Tulalip, where she served on the planning commission.

She landed her first management position at UW Medical Center before earning her graduate degree in Health Administration from UCLA in 1974.

Larson later held executive posts in California for 16 years at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena and Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, followed by 13 years leading three hospitals for University Hospitals in Cleveland, a large academic health system.

In 2001, she returned to Washington as CEO of Providence Northwest, a regional health care system serving several counties. The division includes two Providence Everett hospital campuses, Pavilion for Women & Children, Providence Physician Group, Providence Healthcare Clinic, Providence Hospice and Home Care, Providence Intervention Center for Assault and Abuse, and Providence General Foundation.

During her tenure, Providence Medical Center Everett was named among the nation’s top 100 hospitals, top 100 cardiovascular hospitals and ranked in the top 5% for clinical excellence.

One of her key staff members at the time was Kim Williams, the hospital’s chief nursing officer. Williams remembers Larson as a strong leader who was engaged in the community and understood the need to delegate and trust her staff.

Today, it is Williams who leads Providence in Everett as its CEO. She considered Larson a mentor and a friend.

“She was great to work with,” she said. “I think everyone thought highly of her.”

Larson retired in 2008 but found ways to remain involved with the hospital and other causes. She was an officer with the Providence General Foundation Board and board chairwoman for Mercy Housing Northwest, which owns and operates 54 properties throughout Washington and Idaho, providing more than 5,000 families and seniors a permanent, affordable place to call home with supportive services.

To Lori Kloes, chief philanthropy officer with the Providence General Foundation, Larson led with both her head and her heart.

“She was very personal,” Kloes said. “She always asked you first how was your family before she asked about your work.”

With the foundation board, Larson brought decades of experience in health care as well as valuable community connections, Kloes said.

Mike Butler, Providence president of operations and services, said Larson had an inclusive, tenacious style combined with a visionary mind. He said her contributions will live on in the community for generations.

“Gail Larson was a tireless voice for improving the health of everyone in Snohomish County, especially the most vulnerable,” Butler said. “Her legacy can be felt today even amid the current pandemic. Our world-class medical tower in Everett, which she helped build, and the amazing caregivers who serve there have been at the epicenter for COVID-19, delivering some of the most innovative treatments in the world with the most compassionate care.”

Larson reflected on her career in health care after she was named Snohomish County Business Journal Executive of the Year in 2006.

“It’s a human business we’re in,” she said. “When I came to Providence, I was used to working in places where our mission was to serve everyone in the community and never turn them away. At Providence, the most exciting and moving thing for me has been seeing how the spirituality and mission of the Sisters of Providence touches people, including myself.”

Larson is survived by her husband, Jack, sons Erik and Hans, daughter-in-law Rose and grandchildren Axel and Maeve.

A celebration of Larson’s life will be held at a later time, when her circle of friends and family can safely come together. In the meantime, memories and messages can be shared on her memorial webpage at Donations may be made in her memory to Providence General Foundation, P.O. Box 1067, Everett, WA 98206 or

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446;

Talk to us

More in Local News

FILE - A sign hangs at a Taco Bell on May 23, 2014, in Mount Lebanon, Pa. Declaring a mission to liberate "Taco Tuesday" for all, Taco Bell asked U.S. regulators Tuesday, May 16, 2023, to force Wyoming-based Taco John's to abandon its longstanding claim to the trademark. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)
Hepatitis A confirmed in Taco Bell worker in Everett, Lake Stevens

The health department sent out a public alert for diners at two Taco Bells on May 22 or 23.

VOLLI’s Director of Food & Beverage Kevin Aiello outside of the business on Friday, May 19, 2023 in Marysville, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Coming soon to Marysville: indoor pickleball, games, drinks

“We’re very confident this will be not just a hit, but a smash hit,” says co-owner Allan Jones, who is in the fun industry.

Detectives: Unresponsive baby was exposed to fentanyl at Everett hotel

An 11-month-old boy lost consciousness Tuesday afternoon. Later, the infant and a twin sibling both tested positive for fentanyl.

Cassie Franklin (left) and Nick Harper (right)
Report: No wrongdoing in Everett mayor’s romance with deputy mayor

An attorney hired by the city found no misuse of public funds. Texts between the two last year, however, were not saved on their personal phones.

Firearm discovered by TSA officers at Paine Field Thursday morning, May 11, 2023, during routine X-ray screening at the security checkpoint. (Transportation Security Administration)
3 guns caught by TSA at Paine Field this month — all loaded

Simple travel advice: Unpack before you pack to make sure there’s not a gun in your carry-on.

Heavy traffic northbound on 1-5 in Everett, Washington on August 31, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
To beat the rush this Memorial Day weekend, go early or late

AAA projects busy airports, ferries and roads over the holiday weekend this year, though still below pre-pandemic counts.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Snohomish in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Troopers: DUI crash leaves 1 in critical condition in Maltby

A drunken driver, 34, was arrested after her pickup rear-ended another truck late Tuesday, injuring a Snohomish man, 28.

Housing Hope CEO Donna Moulton raises her hand in celebration of the groundbreaking of the Housing Hope Madrona Highlands on Tuesday, May 23, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
$30M affordable housing project to start construction soon in Edmonds

Once built, dozens of families who are either homeless or in poverty will move in and receive social and work services.

A south-facing view of the proposed site for a new mental health facility on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022, near 300th Street NW and 80th Avenue NW north of Stanwood, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
County Council OK’s Stanwood behavioral health center

After an unsuccessful appeal to block it, the Tulalip Tribes are now on the cusp of building the 32-bed center in farmland.

Most Read