Gloria Mae Rookard, a native of Akron, Ohio, was born on January 3, 1932 to Maurine and Claude Shuler. The second of nine children, Rookard helped care for her siblings and grew up to become a nurse who cared deeply for patients and those in need. She has been active in seeking equal access to health care for all Americans.
Rookard (then Shuler) married Howard Rookard in 1952. That same year, she became a registered nurse and began working at Akron General Hospital, where she eventually was promoted to head nurse. Rookard acted as the clinic coordinator for the Migrand Health Clinic from 1968 to 1969, when she became the manager of ancillary services for a local organization called Visiting Nurse. In 1971, she was invited to help found the National Black Nurses' Association. Serving as the first membership chairwoman, she caused the organization to grow significantly. Having pursued business classes at the University of Akron, she also served as a treasurer. She began working for Headstart as a clinic coordinator in 1974. Earning a P.N.A. from Cincinnati University, she became a certified pediatric nurse practitioner. In 1982, she founded Universal Nursing Services, Inc. and still serves as their president and C.E.O.
Rookard has served as president of the Ohio Pediatric Nurses' Association and managing editor and invited founder of the Contemporary Nurses' Educational Foundation. She has also served as board member for the American Diabetic Society, the Fallsview Psychiatric Hospital and Goals for Greater Akron. President Carter designated her as a Presidential Appointee on the American Family. The NAACP and Wesley Temple A.M.E. church have also benefited from her membership. She and her husband have five children-Howard, Douglas, David, Derrick and Deanna.