First Women Stories

Jill Hansen-Twardoski shared news from her high school friend, Carrie Finch: 

“I’m super excited to report that for the first time in the 264-year history of Washington & Lee University, the Board of Trustees has officially tenured and promoted a woman in mathematics! They’re stuck with me now”

Betsy Stall, a Pastoral Assistant at Holy Family Parish, Kirkland, Washington, reports on an obituary for a woman who taught at the parish school for over thirty years:

Frances Rae McGowan was the first woman to graduate from the School of Engineering (Architecture) at Montana State University in Bozeman. She used her skills to teach high school and middle school math and science.

Mary Peters writes about her daughter:

What an interesting idea. At first I could not think of a “first woman who.” But then I thought of my daughter “the first girl pitcher” for Seattle Sporting Goods B team in the Seattle NW Boys Little League. This was back when Title 9 was beginning to take hold. Lorrie came to us and said that she and a few of her friends were trying out for Boys Little League. Leslie Manchester, Jill Brooks and Lorrie made the teams. So she was not the first girl, but one of the first girls on the team. But she definitely was the first girl pitcher for the team.

Our neighbor’s friend saw Frank playing catch with Lorrie and came over to teach her how to pitch. He had been a pitcher in minor league baseball. So she learned to throw like a boy. I remember when she was playing 3rd base and the parents would yell out “don’t worry about 3rd base, she has an earring in her ear.” They laughed at her when she was put it the first time to pitch. The bases were loaded because the other pitchers had walked three batters. Again there were yells from parents until she struck out a batter, picked up a hit back to her and threw out the runner at home, and then caught a line drive back to her. She was the team’s best pitcher and always pitched the second half of the game. She was undefeated. She was asked to pitch for the A team the next year, but declined.

Cathy Blumenthal reports her own experience:

I was the first woman in Washington State and possibly in the United States to advocate for a software program to allow online carpool ridematching in the Puget Sound Region working with Microsoft, the Redmond TMA and Bellevue TransManage. I helped direct Washington State grant funds for a demonstration in the City of Redmond that later transitioned to RideshareOnline.com, which is currently utilized in Washington State, Oregon State and Idaho State.

Jean Floten, Chancellor of WGT Washington, speaks of when she was Executive Vice President of Edmonds Community College:

The Lynnwood Rotary invited me to become its first woman Rotarian in the late 1980′s. Club members made me feel very welcomed.

After several years of debate and legal challenges, in 1989 the Rotary International Council on Legislation voted to admit women into Rotary clubs worldwide. The response to the Rotary Internation decision was overwhelming: By 1990, the number of female Rotarians skyrocketed to over 20,000 and many other women had also joined the Lynnwood Club.

Tammy Dallman’s family shares firsts:

I was the first female to take advanced programming in my high school. My sister was the first person to attend college in my extended family. My 16 year old daughter says she’s the first person to jump in the water whether the water is a river, pool, lake or ocean.

Marian Thier writes about her mother:

My mother, Libbie Cooper Rapoport, was the first president and one of the founders, of the Allentown, PA Art Museum.

Pat Massey Parker says: 

I was the first woman to have a natural childbirth at Jackson Memorial Hospital, Miami, Florida. On March 18, 1977 our son was born to a room full of nursing students gathered for the occasion!!

Cherie Tucker, author of Hope Chest reports:

Maggie Lewis was the first woman to use the men’s weight training room at Stanford.  Then she and four others started the first women’s crew at Stanford.

Lauren-Michele Seals says:

I was the first woman (and person) to perform a Same Sex wedding in San Diego County on June 8, 2008 at 8:00 AM when the doors to the County Recorder’s Office opened.

Melinda Hews reports:

My oldest sister, Beth Jewell, sent me the particulars of the memory I had of her picture in the local paper due to this wonderful story; she was the first girl to pitch and said:
“I was ten years old, and the City Parks and Recreation Department had a baseball league for elementary schools. Cindy Hoehne and I petitioned the city council to allow us to play as it was all male. She played first base and I pitched. I even pitched a no-hitter! Someone asked Dad in the stands if that was a boy pitching or somebody’s daughter. He replied, “Somebody’s daughter”. Mom was afraid I would never get married. Estrogen is a strong hormone and as you well know, I am a happily married (35 years) mother of 2.” And a very happy grandmother of a little girl who will never have these barriers to her participation in sports.

Janice Whelan reports:

My aunt, Florence Whelan, claimed to be the first woman to get a driver’s license in Lenawee County, Michigan. 

Michael Allen reports:

Our neighbor from down the street, Hazel Jacobs, told me that she was the first woman in the state of Michigan to be licensed to fly a multi engine airplane.  Hazel is in her 80s and I knew that she was a long time pilot.  Recently I was talking to her about the WASPs (the Women’s Air Service Pilots) and she told me that she had not done that but she was the first woman pilot in Michigan to have a multi engine rating.

Mary Stevenson reports:

Back in about 1941 I was about to go on a first job as a secretary and I found out about one on the Great Northern railroad.  It was for a secretary in an office connected with the roundhouse in the Interbay area of Seattle.  They had always hired men for all their office jobs, but in 194l men were being drafted and were also joining the service, so they decided to hire a woman – and it was me!  And I was the first woman to be hired by that railroad for an office job.  So I began working there and stayed for some time calling the engineers and firemen to work when necessary and keeping records on the engines when they were checked, etc., etc.  It was an interesting and “fun” job because I was completely surrounded by men and was just a young single gal.  So, that’s my story  and i hope it fits into your interesting project.

One thought on “First Women Stories

  1. The Lynnwood Rotary invited me to become its first woman Rotarian in the late 1980’s. Club members made me feel very welcomed.

    After several years of debate and legal challenges, in 1989 the Rotary International Council on Legislation voted to admit women into Rotary clubs worldwide. The response to the Rotary Internation decision was overwhelming: By 1990, the number of female Rotarians skyrocketed to over 20,000 and many other women had also joined the Lynnwood Club.

    Jean Floten
    Currently Chancellor WGU Washington, then Executive Vice President, Edmonds Community College

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