History

Phyllis M. Waite

Founder and First President of Pequot Pharmaceutical Network

Phyllis Monroe Waite (1929–2005) was the founder and first President of the Tribe’s Pequot Pharmaceutical Network (PRxN). She also served the Tribe in multiple leadership roles, including Tribal Councilor, Director of Health and Human Services, and Housing Director. Phyllis established the Tribe’s Peacemakers team, serving as its Chairwoman. She also founded the Tribe’s medical clinic, and created various programs for Tribal children through the Indian Child Welfare Act.

Phyllis’s experiences as a nurse’s aide at Rhode Island’s South County Hospital paved the way for her lifelong legacy. Deeply touched by the suffering of disadvantaged patients, Phyllis campaigned for storefront health facilities to serve the underprivileged. After obtaining grants and recruiting volunteer physicians, Phyllis assisted in founding South County’s first prenatal clinic, and the Washington County Health Clinic in Wakefield (now Thundermist Health Center of South County). She was also a founding organizer of the Community Action for New Endeavors (CANE) where she taught unwed mothers to gain work skills, and even how to “dress for success” on a $2 budget.

Married to Lloyd Waite of Mashantucket, Phyllis was the mother of seven children, 38 grandchildren, and 43 great grandchildren. A breast cancer survivor, Phyllis was a strong believer that “struggle brings progress.” Her life bears witness to this guiding principle, and her maternal love was a beacon of safety and guidance for many.

Deeply touched by the suffering of disadvantaged patients, Phyllis campaigned for storefront health facilities to serve the underprivileged.

For her many lifelong contributions, Phyllis received honorary degrees from several academic institutions, including the University of Rhode Island (URI). She also served on multiple corporate, community, and charitable boards, including Backus Hospital, and founded the Timber Spears Memorial Golf Tournament and Endowment Fund.