Honoring Mary Lafon during Women’s History Month

In celebration of Women's History Month, we pay tribute to Mary Lafon, whose pioneering efforts led to the creation of Norton Children’s Hospital.

You Can Help

The “Just Imagine” campaign will support numerous efforts that will help create a brighter future for children. Make a donation or learn more at JustImagineCampaign.com

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we pay tribute to Mary Lafon, a visionary leader whose pioneering efforts have left an enduring mark on pediatric health care in Louisville, Kentucky, and beyond. In fact, her efforts are a large reason that Norton Children’s Hospital exists.

Born in 1840 just outside of Lexington, Kentucky, Mary dedicated her life to serving others, particularly children in need. She exemplified the Progressive Era, as a highly skilled leader who advocated tirelessly for the rights of women and children. As a member of Warren Memorial Presbyterian Church, she embodied the values of compassion and social justice.

Before the Louisville tornado outbreak of 1890, Mary played a crucial role in establishing children as individuals with rights. She led Louisville’s free kindergarten movement, providing educational opportunities for young children from impoverished families. Additionally, Mary was a dedicated supporter of the Kentucky Infirmary for Women and Children, which provided vital medical care to underserved communities.

Inspired by the need for specialized care for sick and injured children, Mary envisioned a dedicated children’s hospital. Alongside physicians John Albert Larrabee, M.D., and Ap Morgan Vance, M.D., as well as her friend Hallie Quigley, Mary embarked on the mission to bring this vision to life. Although their efforts began before a devastating tornado tore through the city injuring numerous children, the disaster served as a catalyst for community engagement, leading to the realization of the hospital.

Children’s Free Hospital, the 10th children’s hospital in the country, opened its doors in 1892 with Mary at the helm. Her tireless dedication to the well-being of children ensured that the hospital thrived and expanded its services over the years, evolving into the advanced pediatric medical center that we know today as Norton Children’s Hospital.

Mary’s legacy reminds us of the profound impact that one individual can have in shaping the course of history. Her pioneering spirit and unwavering commitment to compassionate care continue to guide and inspire us as we carry forward her vision of providing exceptional pediatric health care to every child in need.

During Women’s History Month and beyond, we honor Mary Lafon and all women who have dedicated their lives to making a difference in the world. Their contributions remind us of the importance of perseverance, compassion and leadership in building a brighter future for generations to come.

In the spirit of Mary Lafon, just imagine what could be accomplished for children if everyone bands together. The “Just Imagine” campaign will support numerous efforts that will help create those brighter futures for children. Make a donation or learn more at JustImagineCampaign.com.