Kerrie Orozco, Police Officer

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photo from

Some firsts by women cannot be celebrated. Last Wednesday Kerrie Orozco was the first female police officer in Omaha, Nebraska to die in the line of duty. She was shot when she and another officer attempted to arrest a felon.

Kerrie Orozco was a friend to many children. She coached baseball at an Omaha Boys and Girls Club. Whenever she saw a child playing ball in the street, she would stop and talk to the child. “Why don’t you come play ball at the Boys and Girls Club?” she would ask. Participation in sports with other children was her way of keeping young people off the street and involved in their community. Kerrie Orozco was also a Special Olympics volunteer.

She had two-step children (Natalia, 8, and Santiago, 6) but she and her husband, Hector Orozco Lopez, had given birth to their first child together only last February. Unfortunately, the girl was premature and had been in the hospital ever since. Orozco had arranged a maternity leave beginning the day her daughter came home. That leave was to start the day after she was shot and died.

We all mourn the sacrifice of this brave woman. We also acknowledge the unwitting and unknown sacrifice of her daughter who will grow up without her. Being a First Woman can be difficult, but few women must give their lives to be first.

May blessings fall on Kerrie Orozco’s family, on all her friends, and on all the children who were graced with her attention and caring, as they try to make sense of senselessness.

First Women on Jeopardy

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 4.45.02 PMLast week, on Jeopardy, there was a category called Female Firsts. I didn’t record the full text of the questions, but I thought it might be fun to quiz the readers of this blog on the women included, but in a different format.


Match the descriptions below (a through e) with the names (1 to 5). Answers appear at the bottom.

a. First Woman to ride in the Kentucky Derby

b. First Woman to receive a Pulitzer in history (for Reveille in Washington, 1942)

c. First Woman to receive a bronze star

d. First Woman to receive the Fields Medal in Mathematics (hint: She was the subject of a post on this blog.)

e. First Woman to be Speaker of the House of Commons in England

  1. Betty Booothroyd
  2. Cordelia Cork
  3. Diane Crump
  4. Margaret Leech
  5. Miryam Mirzakhan


Answers: a-3; b-4; c-2; d-5; e-1

It’s “Official”

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Sarah Thomas is the First Woman to be a fulltime game official in the NFL. It was announced today that she will hold the position of line judge.

Sarah has been a First Woman before. She was the First Woman to officiate an NCAA football game, First Woman to officiate a college bowl game, and First Woman to officiate in a Big Ten stadium. She qualified for a permanent position in the NFL in 2013 and has been working exhibition games and other events for then NFL since then.

Sarah’s love of football is natural. She was born in Mississippi where football is a second religion. (I can attest to this fact as I was raised in Mississippi as well.)

When she began officiating, a mentor suggested she work harder to fit in, thinking it might not be helpful for her to call attention to herself. He suggested she put her ponytail up under her hat and not wear makeup. She met him halfway and now wears her ponytail tucked into her cap. Like most of the Mississippi women I know, however, she will not be seen in public without makeup.

Kate Brown and Barbara Kay Roberts, Governors of Oregon

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 9.18.20 AMYesterday Kate Brown was sworn in as Governor of Oregon. Previously she had served as Secretary of State. Since, there is no Lieutenant Governor in Oregon the Secretary of State is next in the line of succession. She was elevated to this office when Governor John Kitzhaber resigned after a scandal that disrupted his leadership. She is not the first woman to be governor of Oregon. That distinction belongs to Barbara Kay Roberts.

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 9.17.57 AMGovernor Roberts was the First Woman elected as Governor and remains the only woman elected to the position of governor, since Kate Brown obtained the position through succession. Like Kate Brown, Barbara Kay Roberts had served as Secretary of State and she was the First Woman to hold that position in Oregon as well. She was also the First Woman to serve as majority leader in the Oregon House of Representatives.

Cast of Women

Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 5.57.19 PMThank you to KUOW radio for introducing me to a film from 1939 that starred only women. Predictably titled The Women, it was based on a play by Clare Boothe Luce and adapted for the screen by Anita Loos and Jane Murfin. There were 130 speaking roles and, although the women talk a lot about men, there is not a single man shown in the movie. Even the pets and family portraits in the movie are female. Was this a first, at least in the commercial film business?

The list of women in the movie’s cast is breathtaking. Even if you are not a movie buff, you might recognize many of the names:

Norma Shearer

Joan Crawford

Rosalind Russell

Paulette Goddard

Joan Fontaine

Lucile Watson

Mary Boland

Virginia Grey

Marjorie Main

Phyllis Povah

Florence Nash

Ruth Hussey

Virginia Weidler

Butterfly McQueen

Hedda Hopper

The film made over $2 million (a tidy sum in 1939) but its production costs exceeded its gross. Did the content of the film keep it out of the popular annals of film history? That might not be the case. The film was directed by George Cukor, which would get a film historian’s attention. However, in 1939, it competed with a few other good (make that great) films. They included Gone with the Wind (which grossed ten times The Women). Other films grossing more that year were: The Wizard of Oz, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Babes in Arms, Goodbye Mr. Chips, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Gunga Din, and Ninotchka.