Fannie L. Starks
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Fannie L. Starks


Wayne Diagnostic and Burton Mercy Hospitals


Fannie L. Starks

Ms. Fannie Starks was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on November 25, 1922 to William and Florence Porter Starks. She was the only daughter and the youngest of three children. Following the death of her parents-her father when she was six years old and her mother when she was ten years old-she was raised by her maternal grandparents. She graduated from Xavier University High School at sixteen and was too young to go off to nursing school. Therefore, she continued her education at a local business school, taking courses in math, english, and typing.

Then Ms. Starks went to Kansas City (Missouri) General Hospital No. 2 and received her nursing diploma in 1945. Ms. Starks accepted her first professional position at the University of Oklahoma Hospital in Oklahoma City along with a group of her classmates. She migrated to Detroit in the late 1940s and began her career in obstetrical nursing at Wayne Diagnostic Hospital, which was later renamed to Burton Mercy Hospital.

She returned to school in the early 1960s and earned the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Wayne State University in 1964. Ms. Starks earned her master's degree in 1974. She continued to work at Burton Mercy Hospital until it closed in 1974.

She went on to teach in the nursing program at Highland Park Community College from 1974 until that school was closed in 1996.

Ms. Starks has been an active member of the Negro Business and Professional Women's Club of Detroit, as well as Nursing Alumni groups.

Tape recorded interview;
Detroit, MI
13 July  1998
audio clip

Discusses segregation in medical/nursing education and the quality of care in black hospitals

[Wayne Diagnostic Hospital] was quite a very unique and satisfying experience for me. Like I said, I came from a background at Kansas City General where all the black doctors were. They either came to Kansas City for their internship and residency, or they went to Homer Phillips, or they went to Grady. Few of them went anyplace else. At that time, they couldn’t. So, I was accustomed to being with and around and taught by top black doctors.

Well, when I went to Oklahoma, I understood the situation I was in, but I also knew I was working with qualified physicians. So when I came to Wayne, then Wayne Diagnostic, my thoughts were, now wait a minute, I don’t want to be here if I’m working with just anybody. But, I knew right away that I was working with top black physicians and that they were coming in there because they couldn’t go anyplace else. That’s why I know the Boddies and the [Charles] Wrights and the Waldo Cains because that’s where they came [from]. It was a very satisfying learning experience for me and that’s why I stayed. And stayed, and stayed there until I got my master’s. And it was hard. It would have been much harder for me to leave. It had then become Burton Mercy. It would have been much harder for me to leave, but at the time I completed my master’s, they were closing the hospital.


William G. Anderson
Reginald P. Ayala
Arthur W Boddie
Wilma Brakefield-Caldwell
Henry C. Bryant Jr.
Alice Burton
Waldo L. Cain
James W. Collins
Claude and Vivienne Cooper
Gladys B. Dillard
George Gaines Jr.
Leon Gant
Herman J. Glass Sr.
Della Goodwin
Joseph B. Harris
Frank P. Iacobell
Horace L. Jefferson
Sidney B. Jenkins
Arthur Johnson
Rachel B. Keith
William E. Lawson
Josephine Love
Hayward Maben Jr.
Berna C. Mason
Suesetta T. McCree
Dorothy Mottley
David C. Northcross Jr.
Ophelia B. Northcross
Marjorie Peebles-Meyers
Frank P. Raiford III
Garther Roberson Jr.
 S. L. Roberson
Elsie Smith
Fannie L. Starks
Lionel F. Swan
Natalia M. Tanner
Oretta Mae Todd
I. Clara Webb
Charles F. Whitten
Charles H. Wright
Watson Young


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Copyright , Kellogg African American Health Care Project, 2000.
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