May 10, 2024/News Releases

Cleveland Clinic Akron General Honors Its First African American Nurse

Plaque honoring Muriel L. Walker to be displayed at hospital

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As part of its celebration of Nurses Week, Cleveland Clinic Akron General honored Muriel L. Walker, who in 1948 became the first African American nurse employed at People’s Hospital, which later became Akron General.

Photo of Muriel L. Walker
Muriel L. Walker

Akron General’s leaders held a ceremony on Thursday to celebrate Mrs. Walker’s legacy. Mrs. Walker’s family members attended along with many Akron General caregivers. A plaque highlighting Mrs. Walker’s accomplishments will be displayed at the hospital to ensure that future generations of Akron General nurses know her story.

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to honor the legacy of this amazing caregiver, especially during Nurses Week,” said Kelli Saucerman-Howard, DNP, RN, Akron General’s Chief Nursing Officer. “Muriel Walker was truly a trailblazer in the field of nursing and in Akron, and her work opened the door for many others to follow in her footsteps.”

Mrs. Walker started her long career in nursing when she entered the World War II U.S. Army Cadet Nurse Corps at Metropolitan General School of Nursing in Cleveland. She excelled as an honors student in science, math, psychology, English literature and Latin. Following graduation in 1948, Mrs. Walker began her career at the Peoples Hospital/Akron General Hospital, where she remained employed for nearly 45 years, retiring in 1992. She was well-known and respected for her commitment to always elevating the standards of technical excellence and compassionate caregiving for nurses.

Plaque honoring Muriel L. Walker
Plaque honoring Muriel L. Walker

Mrs. Walker served the hospital and the community in many capacities, including serving on the board of Edwin Shaw Memorial Hospital and Rehabilitation Center and the board of the Internal Brotherhood Home for Alcoholism Treatment. She was also active in politics, serving as a delegate to the 1976 and 1980 Democratic National Conventions.

She received many awards and honors in her career, including a Lifetime Achievement Award jointly presented to her and her husband, Atha Walker, from the Summit County Council.

Mrs. Walker was committed to lifelong learning and completed the courses to keep her nursing license active from 1948 until her death in 2017 at age 89.

A scholarship for nursing students was established several years ago in her honor by Akron General and the Akron Chapter of the National Black Nurses Association.

About Cleveland Clinic Akron General

Cleveland Clinic Akron General is a nonprofit healthcare organization that has been improving the health and lives of the people and communities it serves since 1914. Akron General is the hub for Cleveland Clinic’s Southern Region and includes a 532-registered-bed teaching and research medical center in downtown Akron; Akron General Partners, which includes Partners Physician Group; three Health & Wellness Centers; Lodi Hospital; and the Akron General Foundation. For more information, visit

About Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. Cleveland Clinic is consistently recognized in the U.S. and throughout the world for its expertise and care. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 81,000 employees worldwide are more than 5,743 salaried physicians and researchers, and 20,160 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,690-bed health system that includes a 173-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 23 hospitals, 276 outpatient facilities, including locations in northeast Ohio; Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2023, there were 13.7 million outpatient encounters, 323,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 301,000 surgeries and procedures throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 132 countries. Visit us at Follow us at News and resources available at

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