Mrs. Hiram Sibley was born Elizabeth M. Tinker in August 1815 and was the wife of the founder of Western Union, Hiram Sibley, just as she chanced to look out her window on a wintry day in 1887, a woman fell on the icy sidewalk in front of her East Avenue mansion. Mrs. Sibley instructed her coachman to transport the injured women to the nearest hospital, but the nearest hospital was the City Hospital (now the Rochester General Hospital) on the far side of West Main St. It was then that her idea to establish a hospital on the East side of Rochester was born.
She was selected as the hospital’s first President of the Board of Supervisors in 1888 and for nearly fifteen years presided at the monthly and special meeting and weekly meeting of the managers. Her dedication to this service is reflected in the fact that except for when out of town or incapacitated by illness, Mrs. Sibley was never absent.
Mrs. Sibley was one on the hospital’s most generous benefactors. She donated $5,000 to pay off the debt on the hospital’s first property and furnished the Brother’s Cottage which had been built for the care of contagious diseases. In 1894 when the hospital moved to the new location on Alexander Street, Mrs. Sibley and other family members contributed to the construction of the Sibley Pavilion. She made annual contributions to the support of the hospital, Training School for Nurses and her donations towards the publication of the Hospital’s newsletter, the Hospital Leaflet for each year since its inception, made it possible its free distribution every month.
The memorial from the Staff of the Hospital commemorated her “willingness to serve, and to contribute of her bounty, but by her courtesy, tact and unfailing considerateness.”
Mrs. Sibley’s rector, the Rev. A.S. Crapsey summarized the loss of her death:
Not only the City of Rochester, but the Church of God without regard to name, the aged and the young, the poor and the rich, those that are near and those that are far off, mourn to-day the loss of a friend and find this world less of a world to them because Elizabeth Maria Tinker Sibley is dead.