Research & Collections > Community History Archives > Philanthropic Archives > Women in Philanthropy
print
 

Women in Philanthropy and Charity in Cleveland and Northeast Ohio

Celebrating Over 200 Years of Generosity and Civic Commitment


The Foundation Center – Cleveland and the Philanthropic and Non-profit History Archives at the Western Reserve Historical Society, in collaboration with Ohio Grantmakers Forum, are pleased to present this online exhibit in honor of the Foundation Center’s Celebrating Philanthropy Month in 2004. We are privileged to shine a spotlight on a diverse selection of women who acted on their passions for creating a better future for all Northeast Ohioans. Through their financial contributions and generosity of spirit and action these women forged new paths for improving the quality of life in our region and beyond, paving the way for today’s women in philanthropy who continue their legacy.

This online exhibit shares the stories of select women, and acknowledges countless others, who have played a significant role in the development of Northeast Ohio from the 19th century to the present.

This exhibit was designed to complement the Online Timeline of Philanthropy and Charity in Cleveland. To view this online exhibit, click here. Both exhibits are ongoing projects of the Philanthropic and Non-profit Archives of the Western Reserve Historical Society. If you or your organization would like to submit a biography and photograph of a female philanthropist for inclusion in this online exhibit, or you would like to add an entry to the Online Timeline of Philanthropy and Charity in Cleveland, please contact Margaret Burzynski-Bays, Associate Curator for Philanthropic and Non-profit History via e-mail at mbbays@wrhs.org.

Thanks to Sharon Kaminski, Hathaway Brown School; Roberta Mancini, Women’s Community Foundation; Jody Bacon, Akron Community Foundation; Hedy Milgrom, Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland; Caprice Bragg, The Cleveland Foundation; and Patty O’Brien, The Stocker Foundation

Photographs courtesy of the Archives/Library of the Western Reserve Historical Society, and The University of Akron Archives, and the Stocker Foundation.


View More Information

Serving the Community: A Timeline of Philanthropy, Charity, and Non-Profit Organizations in Cleveland, Ohio


Women in Philanthropy

Juliana Walworth Long Elisabeth Severance Allen Prentiss
 
Frances Payne Bolton Fanny M. Hanna Bolton
Rebecca Cromwell Rouse
 
Adella Prentiss Hughes Elizabeth Ring Mather Mary Peavy Eagle
Eliza Wallace Jennings
 
Martha Holden Jennings Rowena Woodham Jelliffe Ardelia Bradley Dixon
Elizabeth Davidson Buchtel
 
Alice Gannett Ruth Alderfer Oenslager Ruth Ratner Miller
Eliza Bryant
 
Lethia Cousins Fleming Helen Millikin Nash Beth Kilpatrick Stocker
Mary Lilly
 
Hedwig (d. 1922) and Anna Kosbab Marianne Elisabeth Miliken Hadden Ann Amer Brennan
Mary Ingersol Tod Evans
 
Lucia McCurdy McBride Zelma Watson George Lillian (Lin) Miller Emmons
Flora Stone Mather Jane Edna Harris Hunter Mabel Lamborn Graham  



Juliana Walworth Long (1794-1866)

Juliana Walworth Long was born in New York to Julianna Morgan and John Walworth, a judge. She moved to Ohio with her family in 1800 and settled in Cleveland in 1806. She married Dr. David Long in 1811, and the couple devoted their time to the care of the poor and sick. During the War of 1812, Mrs. Long served as a nurse for wounded brought to Cleveland. She helped organize the First Presbyterian Church (Old Stone Church) in Cleveland, and she joined the temperance movement. She worked with the areas homeless population, even taking in orphans to be raised alongside her two daughters.


Back to the top>




Rebecca Cromwell Rouse (1799-1887)

Rebecca Cromwell Rouse was born in Massachusetts to John and Rebecca Elliot Cromwell. She married Benjamin Rouse in 1821 and the couple moved to Cleveland in 1830. In 1842, Mrs. Rouse founded the Martha Washington and Dorcas Society, one of the first benevolent organizations in the city. The society established the Protestant Orphan Asylum and appointed Mrs. Rouse as its director. In 1850 she helped organize the Cleveland Ladies Temperance Union, and in 1861 she organized the Ladies Aid Society, an organization that became the Soldiers’ Aid Society of Northern Ohio. Mrs. Rouse served as president of the Soldiers’ Aid Society and was personally responsible for raising large sums of money through sanitary fairs.


Back to the top>




Eliza Wallace Jennings (1809-1887)

Born in Belfast, Ireland, to James and Margaret Hannah Chambers Wallace, Eliza Wallace Jennings immigrated to Ohio soon after her 1820 marriage to Simeon Jennings. Jennings and her husband acquired substantial wealth and used it to help establish several charitable institutions. Mrs. Jennings deeded her home and farm to the Children’s Aid Society, an organization she helped found. She also donated other property and funds to the Young Women’s Christian Association to erect a home for the care of poor, incurably ill women which was named the Eliza Jennings Home in her honor in 1888. She also endowed a Methodist Seminary in Illinois and a home for aged women in Salem, Ohio.


Back to the top>



Elizabeth Davidson Buchtel (1821-1891)

Elizabeth Davidson was born in Union County, Pennsylvania, and married John Richards Buchtel in 1844. She was involved with the Akron Soldiers Aid Society, and in 1864 volunteered for the committee that solicited donations of machinery and mechanical products for Cleveland's giant Sanitary Fair. After the Civil War, she and her husband dedicated themselves to the founding of Buchtel College (now The University of Akron.) In 1874, John Buchtel ran for secretary of state on the Prohibition ticket and Elizabeth Buchtel organized the meeting that led to the Temperance Crusade of 1874 where Akron women visited saloons and prayed in the streets in an attempt to close down the liquor traffic in the city.


Back to the top>




Eliza Bryant (1827-1907)

Eliza Bryant was born in North Carolina to Polly Simmons, a slave, and her master. In 1848 Polly Simmons was freed and moved to Cleveland where she purchased a home with funds provided by her master. Polly Simmons and her daughter Eliza opened their homes to newcomers until they found work to support themselves. Eliza Bryant was particularly concerned for aging African Americans who were alone in the world due to slavery. Together with Sarah Green and Lethia Fleming, Eliza Bryant established the Cleveland Home for Aged Colored People (known today as the Eliza Bryant Center) in 1897. The primary funds to establish the home were obtained through a network of women in churches and clubs in Cleveland. The institution was renamed the Eliza Bryant Center in 1960.


Back to the top>



Mary Lilly (1836-1915)

Born in Stronsville, Ohio, Mary Lilly was married to a farmer. After being widowed, Mrs. Lilly Observed several elderly women living in poor conditions in Elyria, and in 1896 established the Old Ladies’ Home Association of Elyria, Ohio, to provide for their care. Admission policies required that the woman be a coumty resident three years preceding application and be at least 60 years old. Mrs. Lilly’s Conviction inspired other prominent citizens to take up her cause. Her Old Ladies Home Association lives on as the Elyria United Methodist Village, one of the facilities operated by Wesleyan Senior Living.






Back to the top>






Mary Ingersol Tod Evans (d. 1869)

Born in Youngstown, Mary Ingersol Tod was the daughter of a judge. She was married twice, to John McCurdy of Warren who died in 1830, and to Dr. Dana D. Evans of Akron. Evans was involved in the 1850s with the Young Men's Association and the Fireman's Festival. During the Civil War, she was active in Akron's Soldiers Aid Society. The Akron Soldiers Aid Society contributed thousands of dollars worth of food and clothing to Civil War soldiers and raised money by holding dime parties, socials and dinners. Evans is best known for establishing the Ladies Cemetery Association, believing that the Akron Rural Cemetery (now Glendale Cemetery) deserved to be as beautifully kept as the rest of the city and worked with her sisters, Julia Ford and Grace Perkinsto raise funds for a groundskeeper residence.


Back to the top>



Flora Stone Mather (1852-1909)

Flora Stone Mather supported and influenced the development of educational and cultural institutions in Cleveland. Plaques with her name and face on them are located throughout University Circle in thanks for her generous support. She was the youngest child of Amasa and Julia Gleason Stone and graduated from Cleveland Academy. In 1881, she married Samuel Mather and had four children.

The main focus of her philanthropic support was on the Western Reserve University campus. In 1892, Mrs. Mather gave the funds necessary to build Guilford House, a dormitory on the Western Reserve University campus. Mrs. Mather was also responsible for the building of Haydn Hall in honor of a pastor at the Old Stone Church where she was a life member, and the completion of the Amasa Stone Chapel, in honor of her father. Another of Mrs. Mather’s many gifts to Cleveland was Goodrich House. Built in 1896, it was a settlement house that produced organizations such as the Legal Aid Society and the Consumers League of Ohio. Although Mrs. Mather passed away in 1909, her work did not end. Over thirty different religious, educational, cultural, and welfare agencies received gifts as part of her will. In 1913, a dormitory named Mather House was dedicated in her honor, and in 1931 the College for Women at Western Reserve University was renamed Mather College as thanks for her gifts to the college.


Back to the top>


Elisabeth Severance Allen Prentiss (1865-1944)

Like so many other noted philanthropists in Cleveland, Elisabeth Severance Prentiss actively supported organizations and causes that interested her personally and carried on a tradition of philanthropy started by her family. She was born in Titusville, Pennsylvania in 1865 to Fanny Benedict and Louis H. Severance, an early partner of John D. Rockefeller. Her father donated the stadium, gymnasium, and chemistry laboratory to the College of Wooster. Her brother, John L. Severance, would also carry on the family tradition of giving by donating a series of tapestries to the armor court of the Cleveland Museum of Art in honor of Mrs. Prentiss’s first husband.

Mrs. Prentiss graduated from Wellesley College in 1887 and then studied in Paris and Berlin for a year. In 1892, she married Dr. Dudley P. Allen, a well-known surgeon who would later become the president of both the Ohio State Medical Association and the American Surgical Association. Elisabeth Allen was widowed in 1915, and two years later she married Francis Fleury Prentiss. Mr. and Mrs. Prentiss brought strong philanthropic traditions together in their marriage, and their impact upon Cleveland’s medical, social, and cultural institutions has endured to this day.

One of her primary interests, even before her marriage to Dr. Allen, was medicine. While waiting for a permanent home, Huron Road Hospital was housed in her former home. She was responsible for the building of the Allen Memorial Building at St. Luke’s Hospital and of an Allen Memorial Hospital at Oberlin College. She also served as president of St. Luke’s Hospital after the death of Francis Prentiss. Mrs. Prentiss also established the Dudley P. Allen Memorial Library of the Cleveland Medical Association and donated her Euclid Avenue home to the Cleveland Health Museum in 1940.

The arts were also an area that received Mrs. Prentiss’s support. She was involved with the Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) and the Musical Arts Association (MAA). In 1923, she became a member of the CMA advisory panel, and in 1937 she became a trustee. At the CMA, she was involved in the programs of the educational department for both children and adults. In 1924, she donated a set of Japanese prints; and in 1930, she and her husband gave two wooden Spanish sculptures dating back to 1275. In addition to the hospital at Oberlin, she also established a Dudley Peter Allen Memorial Art Museum. Mrs. Prentiss was a charter member of the Musical Arts Association, served on its board of trustees, and in 1938 became the vice-president. From 1925 to 1927, she was also president of the Cleveland Orchestra Women’s Committee.

For her dedication to Cleveland’s cultural institutions, Mrs. Prentiss became the first woman to be awarded the Cleveland Medal for Public Service in 1928. In 1942, she was given a degree from Western Reserve University and, a year later, a citation from Oberlin College. Mrs. Prentiss continued her work until her death in 1944.


Back to the top>


Adella Prentiss Hughes (1869-1950)

Adella Prentiss Hughes spent her life promoting musical causes in Cleveland and, in founding the Cleveland Orchestra, was able to bring international acclaim to Cleveland. Mrs. Hughes was born in Cleveland to Loren and Ellen Rouse Prentiss. She graduated from Miss Fisher’s School for Girls and graduated with a music degree from Vassar in 1890. She toured Europe for a year before returning to Cleveland, and she devoted herself to the sparse local musical scene, first becoming a professional accompanist. Though she enjoyed playing music, by 1898, she also wanted to bring other musicians to Cleveland. She was married once, in 1904, to Felix Hughes, but they divorced in 1923.

For seventeen years, she brought orchestras, ballets, and operas to Cleveland to perform at Gray’s Armory. In 1915, she established the Musical Arts Association that called upon a group of wealthy businessmen for the funding of cultural projects. Under her leadership and the guidance of Nikolai Sokoloff, the Musical Arts Association founded the Cleveland Orchestra in 1918. Mrs. Hughes was the Orchestra’s first manager for 15 years and held leadership positions at the Musical Arts Association for 30 years. In 1945, Mrs. Hughes only nominally retired, and continued to pursue musical interests until her death in 1950.


Back to the top>


Martha Holden Jennings (1873-1962)

Although Martha Holden Jennings spent much of her life abroad, her contributions to Cleveland medical, educational, and cultural institutions were significant. Mrs. Jennings, the niece of the founder of the Plain Dealer, was born in Cleveland in 1873 to Ella Louise Pitken and Justice Holden. She was raised and educated in Cleveland, and in 1897 she married Andrew R. Jennings. Because of his promotion to European General Manager of IBM, the couple moved to Europe and lived in various cities for 31 years before returning to Cleveland in 1931.

Upon returning to Cleveland, however, Mr. Jennings died suddenly, leaving his entire estate to his wife. Mrs. Jennings decided to donate her wealth to area organizations since she had no close relatives. Individual gifts of ten million dollars were made to Case Institute of Technology, the University Circle Development Fund, and the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. She was an active supporter of the Cleveland Museum of Art and gave them many gifts. Her most enduring gift was the establishment of the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation. Mrs. Jennings hoped to bring greater recognition to the teaching profession in Ohio at the elementary and secondary levels through support of educational initiatives.


Back to the top>


Alice Gannett (1876-1962)

Though born to a life of privilege, Alice Gannett worked on behalf of those who did not have her advantages. She devoted herself to the settlement house movement and to serious investigation into the social conditions of the very poor. She was born in Bath, Maine to Henry and Mary Chase Gannett. Her father was the founder of the National Geographic Society. She went to school in Washington, D.C. and graduated from Bryn Mawr. She taught for three years before realizing that her real passion was for the social conditions of the poor.

In 1906, she moved to New York City. Miss Gannett moved into a dingy room in a tenement building to gain first-hand experience of poverty. She traveled to Buffalo, New York to work at Welcome Hall and returned to New York City where she was the head of Lenox House for six years and was also associate director of the Henry Street Settlement.

She came to Cleveland in1917 to head Goodrich House. Under her leadership, Goodrich House became an important and effective neighborhood center. After retiring from Goodrich House in 1947, Miss Gannett founded the Neighborhood Group, a civic group for senior citizens, one of the first of its kind. Miss Gannett was also the president of the Cleveland Federation of Settlements for five years, president of the National Federation of Settlements for two years, and head of the Consumer’s League of Ohio for eight years. In 1960, Bryn Mawr commended her for her work.


Back to the top>



Lethia Cousins Fleming (1876-1963)

Lethia Cousins Fleming was many things throughout her life; campaign organizer, women’s and civil rights activist, wife, and politician, to name a few. Although Mrs. Fleming was most well known for her work in politics, both locally and nationally, she was also a twenty-year employee of the Cuyahoga County Child Welfare Board where she worked following an unsuccessful bid for her husband’s city council seat in 1929.

Born in Tazewell, Virginia in 1876 to James Archibald and Fannie Taylor Cousins, Mrs. Fleming was educated in Ironton, Ohio and later at Morristown College in Tennessee. Following college, she returned to her home state where she was a suffragist and taught for twenty years, until her marriage to Thomas Wallace Fleming in 1912.

After their marriage, the couple moved to Cleveland, where Thomas, a lawyer, would later become the city’s first African-American councilman. Only two years after the move, Mrs. Fleming became the chairwoman of the Board of Lady Managers at the Cleveland Home for Aged Colored People (later the Eliza Bryant Center) and was also part of many national organizations. She was a charter member of the Urban League of Greater Cleveland, the Traveler’s Aid Society, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (Cleveland Branch). An ardent supporter of the Phillis Wheatley Association (PWA), her fundraising efforts led to the purchase of the first PWA building.

Though she did not win her husband’s city council seat after his imprisonment, Mrs. Cousins was active in politics on a national and local level. She worked on galvanizing support among African-American women for three Republican presidential candidates: Warren G. Harding, Herbert Hoover, and Alfred M. Landon. She chaired the executive board of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs and served as president of its Ohio federation. She served on the executive board for the National Association of Colored Women and the National Council of Negro Women, in addition to serving as president of the National Association of Republican Women and executive director of the Republican Colored Women organization.


Back to the top>


Hedwig (d. 1922) and Anna Kosbab

Hedwig and Anna Kosbab, the daughters of Hungarian immigrant Josip Kosbab, established the East End Neighborhood House in Cleveland in 1907. Located on Woodhill Road, the settlement house serves the Buckeye-Woodland-Woodhill neighborhoods. The Kosbab sisters initially offered sewing and cooking classes out of their home for their neighbors, but soon saw the need for a more formal organization to meet the needs of the Southern European immigrants moving into their neighborhood. They persuaded philanthropists Samuel Mather, Rollin White, and Oris Van Sweringen to serve on the board of trustees of their newly established settlement house, and by 1922 over 70,000 people had participated in East End programs.


Back to the top>



Lucia McCurdy McBride (1880-1970)

Born in Cleveland to William Henry and Fannie S. Rhodes McCurdy, Lucia McBride received her education at Shaw Academy and Hathaway Brown School in Cleveland and Miss Hersey’s School in Boston. She married Malcolm McBride in 1905 and had three children. Mrs. McBride’s passion was women’s suffrage, and she founded and directed the Cleveland Woman Suffrage party and Ohio Woman Suffrage Association. She also held leadership positions in national suffrage organizations. She served on the board of education for the Cleveland Public Schools and she was the only female member of the City Planning Commission. Mrs. McBride testified on behalf of minimum wage laws, child labor laws, and war prevention.

An advocate of family planning and other women’s issues, Mrs. McBride was a founding trustee of the Maternal Health Association. Her passion for health care issues also caused her to become an early board member of the Visiting Nurse Association of Cleveland. She helped found the Junior League of Cleveland and the Women’s City Club. She was also interested in the cultural life of Cleveland, serving on the boards of the Cleveland Institute of Art and the Cleveland Playhouse and on advisory committees for the Cleveland Commission on Public Works of Art and the Cleveland Museum of Art. She also served in a leadership capacity for the Citizens League of Greater Cleveland.


Back to the top>



Jane Edna Harris Hunter (1882-1971)

Mrs. Hunter established an important welfare agency that has thrived through community involvement. Born to a sharecropper in Pendleton, South Carolina, Mrs. Hunter would graduate from Virginia’s Hampton Institute in 1905 as a trained nurse before coming to Cleveland to find a job. In Cleveland, she would later earn a law degree from Marshall Law School. When she realized how hard it was for young, homeless, unmarried, and poor African-American women to find any help in the city, she founded the Working Girls’ Association to help find them housing. When the association moved to a two- story building, Mrs. Hunter changed the name of the organization to the Phillis Wheatley Association (PWA), in honor the African-American poet. The goal of the PWA was to provide housing, education, and marketable skills to African-American girls in need.

By galvanizing support for the PWA among Cleveland’s prominent citizens, the PWA was able to grow, in both scope and size, to a nine story building on Cleveland’s East Side. After retiring as executive secretary of the PWA, Mrs. Hunter established a Phillis Wheatley Foundation to help high school students, and a scholarship fund was later established in her name. Besides her Phillis Wheatley activities, Mrs. Hunter also founded the Women’s Civic League of Cleveland in 1943, was a member of the NAACP, and was vice-president and member of the executive committee of the National Association of Colored Women. Before her death in 1971, Mrs. Hunter received honorary degrees from Fisk University, Allen University in South Carolina, and Central State University in Ohio.


Back to the top>



Frances Payne Bolton (1885-1977)

Frances Payne Bolton’s life was marked not only by her philanthropic contributions, but also by her remarkable career serving in the U.S. House of Representatives for Ohio’s 22nd district. Elected in 1939 to succeed her late husband, Chester C. Bolton, Mrs. Bolton made significant contributions to her country, especially in the areas of foreign affairs and nursing. Mrs. Bolton served as a member of the House until 1968, and she became the first woman in Congress to head an official mission abroad, become a Congressional delegate to the United Nations, and become a ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. She also became half of the first mother-son team in Congress.

It is no surprise that Mrs. Bolton would end up representing her country in some way. Although her father was not involved in politics, both of her grandfathers, William Bingham and Henry B. Payne were state legislators, and her maternal grandfather later served as a U.S. senator. She was born on March 29, 1885 to Charles W. Bingham and Mary Perry Payne Bingham in Cleveland, Ohio. While she would not become independently wealthy until some years after her marriage, she grew up on a section of Euclid Avenue referred to as Millionaires’ Row. Although she did not attend college, she received a more than ample education (and later many honorary degrees) through her attendance at Hathaway Brown School in Cleveland, Miss Spence’s School in New York, her travels abroad, and through her family library.

After her marriage to Chester Bolton in 1907, Mrs. Bolton received a large inheritance from her uncle, Oliver Hazard Payne, the treasurer of Standard Oil as well as one of the richest men in the country. The inheritance allowed her to further pursue her interest in nursing. She used this interest and her own influence during World War I to help establish the Army School of Nursing. The Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Western Reserve University was also established through her generosity to provide nursing students an education as opposed to on-the-job training. The gift from her uncle also allowed her to establish the Payne Study & Experiment Fund (later called the Payne Fund) in 1927. The Payne Fund distributed money to help fund projects on topics such as juvenile reading and drug trafficking. The Payne Fund also supported psychic research & parapsychology at the Ohio State University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Utrecht. Mrs. Bolton also joined forces with her siblings, Elizabeth Blossom and Messrs William and H.P. Bingham in donating $1 million to Yale University as an endowment for a dormitory in their father’s name.

After her terms in Congress, Mrs. Bolton stayed active in politics and humanitarian efforts, serving on the board of governors of the Middle East Institute. Additionally, she served as a trustee for numerous organizations including the National Trust of Historic Preservation, Tuskegee Institute, the U.S. Capitol Historical Society, and the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. In 1973, the School of Advanced International Studies established a chair in her name for African studies, and in 1976 she received the Human Relations Award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews.


Back to the top>


Elizabeth Ring Mather (1891-1957)

Elizabeth Ring Ireland Mather was born in Michigan to Clark and Lizzie Palmer Ring. Educated a the Miss Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, she married James Duane Ireland in 1913 and moved to Cleveland in 1918. Mrs. Ireland was widowed in 1921, and she married industrialist William Gwinn Mather in 1929.

Mrs. Mather served as the first president of the Garden Center of Cleveland in 1930, leading the institution to become one of the nation’s most important horticultural centers. She also promoted a vegetable relief garden project during the Depression which helped feed over 40,000 people. A leading proponent of beautification efforts in Cleveland, Mrs. Mather funded the development of a master plan for rebuilding the University Circle area into a major cultural center for the city. She also supervised the beautification of the grounds surrounding the Cleveland Institute of Art.

Mrs. Mather also worked as a social worker at Rainbow Hospital for Crippled Children and made generous contributions to Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Museum of Art. She established the Elizabeth Ring and William Gwinn Mather Fund in 1954.


Back to the top>


Rowena Woodham Jelliffe (1892-1992)

The dream of Rowena Jelliffe and her husband Russell to build a center where people of different ethnic cultures could find common cause coupled with hard work materialized into the establishment of Karamu House, a nationally recognized interracial community center. Mrs. Jelliffe, born in 1892 in New Albion, Illinois. It was her early upbringing that Mrs. Jelliffe often credited for giving her a sense of dedication to the ideals of gender and racial equality. She came to Ohio in 1910 to attend Oberlin College, where she was the president of the Oberlin Women’s Suffrage League and met her future husband, who also campaigned for women’s rights. They went to the University of Chicago together to earn their masters degrees in sociology.

After marrying in 1915, the Jelliffes moved to Cleveland where they were hired by the Second Presbyterian Church to conduct neighborhood improvement projects. They bought two houses and named them Playhouse Settlement. The settlement welcomed all races and educated the neighborhood residents through art. The Gilpin Players, the first theater group, was started in 1920, and in 1927 the theater opened. The theater was called Karamu after the Swahili word that means a place of joyful meeting. After moving in 1950, the name of the settlement was changed to Karamu House. Through the Jelliffes’ work, Karamu House prospered and expanded its programs. A dance troupe was started in 1935 and performed in the 1940 World’s Fair in New York City. In the 1940’s Langston Hughes’s plays were premiered at Karamu.

Besides working on projects related to Karamu House, the Jelliffes were also involved in the establishment of important civic welfare organizations such as the Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Association, the Community Relations Board, and the Cleveland Urban League. They were delegates to the 1921 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) convention in Atlanta and they attended the Pan-African Congress in Paris. In 1963, the Jelliffes retired from Karamu House and spent much of the 1960’s campaigning for civil rights. After her husband’s death in 1980, Mrs. Jelliffe served on the boards of the East Cleveland Theater and the Fine Arts Association of Willoughby.


Back to the top>

Ruth Alderfer Oenslager (1892-1992)

Ruth Alderfer Oenslager was born in Katytown, Ohio in 1892, to John Melvin and Estella Santee Alderfer. She attended Oberlin College; studied the fine arts; and became an occupational therapist, serving in France during World War I. With Mrs. George Crouse Jr., and Mrs. R.G. Shirk, Oenslager founded the Junior League of Akron in 1923 and became its first president. She married George Oenslager in 1939. In 1965, Oenslager provided the support needed to save the Loew’s Theater (now the Akron Civic Theater) when the fundraising campaign stalled and the wrecking ball loomed. In 1975, she donated her 103-acre family farm to the Medina County Park District and the Alderfer-Oenslager Wildlife Sanctuary remains a testament to her generosity.


Back to the top>



Helen Millikin Nash (1893-1990)

Helen Millikin Nash was born in Cleveland to Benjamin and Julia Severance Milliken. She attended Froebel School and Hathaway Brown School, and she graduated from Wells College in 1914. She married Richard Nash in 1923 and had three children. Mrs. Nash joined the Shaker Lakes Garden Club and served as its president during the 1930s. She was an original trustee of the Shaker Lakes Regional Nature Center and served as vice president and president of the Garden Center of Cleveland. Under her leadership, the Garden Center increased its membership and became involved in community development efforts. Mrs. Nash funded half of the National Audubon Society study which concluded that the Shaker Lakes should be preserved from destruction threatened by the proposed Clark Freeway. She served as a trustee of Beech Brook Children’s Home and the Visiting Nurse Association, and her term on the board of the Cleveland Orchestra spanned over 40 years.


Back to the top>


Marianne Elisabeth Miliken Hadden (1896-1992)

Marianne Millikin Hadden was born in Cleveland to Dr. Benjamin Millikin and Julia Walworth Severance and grew up next door to the John D. Rockefeller home on Euclid Avenue. Her father was dean of the Western Reserve University Medical School and her uncle was philanthropist John Long Severance. Marianne Millikin Hadden was educated at Froebel and the Laurel School, and she graduated from Wells College in 1917. She performed civilian relief work during the first world war, and she married attorney John Alexander Hadden in 1922. Mrs. Hadden served on the board of trustees of the Maternal Health Association for over 20 years, and she gave generously to the Cleveland Center for Child Dvelopment, the Musical Arts Association, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the medical school of Case Western Reserve University.


Back to the top>


Zelma Watson George (1903-1994)

Born in Texas, Zelma Watson George earned a sociology degree from the University of Chicago and studied voice at the American Conservatory of Music. She also earned degrees in administration and sociology from New York University. She worked as a social worker in Illinois and a dean at Tennessee State University, and founded and directed the Avalon Community Center in Los Angeles. After her first marriage ended in divorce, she obtained a Rockefeller Foundation grant to study African American music. While visiting Cleveland to examine the John G. White Collection, she met attorney Clayborne George and the couple married in 1944. Her research culminated in the musical drama Chariot’s A’Comin! which was telecast locally in Cleveland in 1949. She became involved in opera productions at Karamu House, and her acting and singing skills so impressed Carlo Menotti that he selected her to assume the title role in his off-Broadway revival production The Medium even through the role was not written for an African American actress. During the 1950s and 1960s, Mrs. George served on several national government committees concerning women and youth, and lectured the world as a goodwill ambassador and alternate delegate to the United Nations General Assembly. She served as director of the Cleveland Job Corps from 1966-1974 during a period of tremendous growth for the organization. George promoted career mobility and educational programs for disadvantaged women, ultimately leading to the establishment of the Zelma George Center for Women and Children in Cleveland. Zelma Watson George's successful career and her commitment to overcoming obstacles and outstanding public service have made a significant impact on both her community and the world. She received the Dag Hammerskjold Award, the Edwin T. Dahlberg Peace Award, and was selected by the Greater Cleveland Women’s History Committee as one of the Women Who Shaped Cleveland. She was inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame in 1982.


Back to the top>


Mabel Lamborn Graham (1905-2002)

Mabel Lamborn Graham was born in 1905 and grew up in Alliance, Ohio. In 1925, she married Silver Lake, Ohio dentist Lawrence A. Graham. Graham was very active in the Cleveland Skating Club and was an international skating judge. She was also a piano teacher.

In 1949, Beacon Journal business manager John Barry presented a $500 check to Graham with instructions to start a symphony orchestra in Akron with 2 specifications, Make it a union, and never give up. Graham took those words to heart and quickly started fundraising. In 1953 the first concert by the Akron Symphony was given at Central High School and it continues as a professional orchestra today. Graham is regarded as the founding president of the Greater Akron Musical Association, the Symphony's parent organization, an office which she held from 1953 - 1970.


Back to the top>


Fanny M. Hanna Bolton (1907-1980)

Born in Cleveland to Jean Claire and Howard Melville Hanna, Jr., Fanny Mann Hanna Bolton gave generously to health care initiatives and hospitals. The daughter of the president of M. A. Hanna Mining Company, Mrs. Bolton attended Laurel School, Miss Masters School at Dobbs Ferry, and the French School. She married Julian Castle Bolton in 1929 and had two daughters. She served as a trustee of University Hospitals of Cleveland and was a major contributor to the hospital’s programs. Mrs. Bolton established the Bolton Foundation in 1952 to support Cleveland hospitals and health services. The Bolton Foundation’s assets were equally distribted to the Eliza-Bolton Foundation and the Kerridge Fund in 1988.


Back to the top>




Mary Peavy Eagle (1909-2003)

Mary Peavy came to Akron in 1924 from Checotah, Oklahoma so her father could work in the rubber factories. By 1927, barely out of her teens, Mary Peavy led the Young Ladies Progressive Club providing services to the poor. In 1929 she married Isaac Thomas Eagle, a Goodyear rubber worker also from Checotah, Oklahoma. Eagle founded the Akron Council of Negro Women in 1932 to coordinate the activities of neighborhood clubs. It is believed that Mary McLeod Bethune modeled the National Council of Negro Women after Eagle's group. Eagle was the first African-American woman president of a PTA in Summit County, but her activism extended beyond her neighborhood. In the late 1930s, after learning about one of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration (WPA) initiatives to clear blighted areas, Eagle successfully convinced her councilman to replace existing structures on North Street with brick homes, creating Elizabeth Park Homes.


Back to the top>



Ardelia Bradley Dixon (1916-1991)

Ardelia Dixon was a civic leader who tirelessly supported Cleveland institutions. From civil rights to education, Mrs. Dixon’s support was always vocal or printed in letters to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Born in Atlantic City in 1916 to Ardelia Jackson and Oscar Dixon, Mrs. Dixon grew up in Cleveland and graduated from John Hay High School. She attended Fenn College (later Cleveland State University) for a year and then began working for her degree part time at Cleveland College of Western Reserve University (later Case Western Reserve University). In 1945, she married a fellow civic volunteer, Henry George Dixon, but had no children. After earning her degree in 1948, Mrs. Dixon worked as a secretary for Antioch Baptist Church, Central High School, and her alma mater, John Hay High School.

When she was not working, Mrs. Dixon volunteered for the Interchurch Council of Greater Cleveland, the National Council of Churches, Fairhill Mental Health Center, and the Phillis Wheatley Center. She was also a life member of the NAACP and served on many of its committees. In 1963, she took part of the march on Washington D.C. led by Martin Luther King, Jr. She was a strong supporter of the Cleveland Public Library System (CPL) and educational causes. She served on the board of trustees of the CPL from 1980 to 1988, chaired the personnel and community services committees, and supported non-profit children’s book publisher New Day Press.


Back to the top>


Ruth Ratner Miller (d. 1996)

Ruth Ratner Miller received her B.S. and Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Miller was a civic leader, community advocate and a compassionate mentor. She dedicated her life to Cleveland, working hard for the city and its people. Her contributions include serving as the director of the City's Department of Community Development (1975-1977) and director of the City's Department of Public Health and Welfare (1974-1975) as well as serving as a Trustee of Cleveland State University from 1987 until her death in 1996. She was instrumental in anchoring downtown Cleveland's renaissance in the 1980s through the development of Tower City Center in the Terminal Tower. She served on innumerable boards and committees at the local, national, and international levels including the Cleveland Ballet, Western Reserve Historical Society, Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland, the National Housing Conference and the United States Holocaust Memorial Council. The Ruth Ratner Miller Center for Greater Cleveland's Future, part of the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at CSU, honors her life-long commitment to and vision for our metropolitan region. Her legacy continues to make life better throughout Greater Cleveland.



Back to the top>



Beth Kilpatrick Stocker (b. 1908)

Beth Kilpatrick Stocker grew up on a thirty-acre farm near Delaware Ohio. She received a bachelor's of science degree from Ohio University in 1928 and an honorary degree, doctor of humane letters for exemplary devotion to Ohio University and compassionate commitment to education and philanthropy, in 2003. Shortly after graduation, she joined the New York City Health Department as a bacteriologist. In 1930, Beth married C. Paul Stocker and continued to work during the Great Depression, providing the primary source of income after Paul was terminated with regret from the research engineering department at Bell Laboratories. Beth stayed with the New York City Health Department for a total of seven years until she moved with her husband to Lorain, Ohio in 1935. Paul Stocker invented many things but was best know for the Sub Cycle static frequency converter, which was a revolutionary design for the telephone industry. The Stocker’s had three daughters born between 1937 and 1940; Nancy, Sara Jane and Mary Ann. During their life together, Beth and Paul incorporated their personal values of giving back to the community with their philanthropic spirit toward the arts, education, youth leadership and self-help for the disadvantaged and disabled. Most notably $8 million bequeathed to Ohio University at the time of Paul Stocker’s death in 1978 to The Russ College of Engineering and Technology. Because much of the couple's giving to Ohio University was directed toward endowments, gifts to The Russ College have nearly doubled in size and now provide almost $1.5 million in scholarships annually.

Beth established The Stocker Foundation in 1979 from the estate of her late husband. From 1979 until the spring of 2003, she served as president of the board and currently as President Emeritus. Under her steadfast and capable leadership, The Stocker Foundation has grown into a mature grantmaking organization with approximate assets of $47 million. The Foundation actively supports nonprofit organizations in the areas of arts/culture, community needs, education, health, social services and women’s issues. Annual distributions from the Foundation focus first on Lorain County, Ohio—the community where the assets were generated and then on other communities where Trustees reside (Pima County, Arizona; Bernalillo and Dona Ana Counties, New Mexico; King County, Washington; and San Francisco County, California). Annually, The Stocker Foundation distributes $2.5 million and since its inception has distributed a total of $23 million.

Beth’s personal philanthropy is quiet, but significant and she has been described by many as a social activist and humanitarian. Beth has a long history of involvement with Lorain County Community College and the Lorain YWCA. She has made contributions to 19 funds at The Community Foundation of Greater Lorain County with particular interest in The Lorain Palace Civic Center, Lorain City Schools Endowments and The Neighborhood House Association. Beth, a former Girl Scout leader, remains active with the Girl Scouts of Erie Shores serving on a committee for disadvantaged girls. Beth has received numerous honors recognizing her volunteerism and leadership, including the Eric C. Nord Leadership Award.

Back to the top>



Ann Amer Brennan

Ann Amer Brennan earned degrees from The University of Akron in 1956 (Education) and 1982 (Juris Doctor,) and taught social studies before becoming a practicing attorney. In 1991, Brennan founded the Akron Area Arts Alliance with Mary Ann Jackson. A patron of the arts, she has served in leadership roles for Blossom Music Center, Ohio Ballet, Weathervane Theatre, National Invention Center, Inventors Hall of Fame, Akron Symphony, and Akron Civic Theatre. She served as trustee for the Akron Visitors and Convention Center, Akron Community Foundation, The University of Akron, Akron Tomorrow, Hiram College, Summit Education Initiative, and the Summa Health System. She was appointed by Gov. Bob Taft to the Biomedical Research and Technology Transfer Commission. She is the 2000 recipient of the Akron Community Foundation’s Bert A. Polsky Humanitarian Award, and received the 2003 University of Akron Distinguished Alumni Award. Northern Ohio Live named her one of the most Influential Women in Northeast Ohio. She is currently chair of the Brennan Family Foundation.


Back to the top>



Lillian (Lin) Miller Emmons (b. 1932)

Lillian (Lin) Miller Emmons was raised in British Columbia and moved to Cleveland in 1972. She obtained a B.H.E. from the University of British Columbia in 1954, and continued her education at the University of Minnesota, receiving Ph.D.s in both nutrition and anthropology. She married Hamilton Emmons in 1959 and had three children. A staunch supporter of women’s issues, Emmons served as board president of the Women’s Community Foundation of Cleveland in 1992-1993, and as planning chair and developer of the year-long activities of Women Celebrating the Bicentennial in Cleveland in 1996. She received the Women’s Community Foundation’s Creative Philanthropy Award in 1998 and remains a catalyst for its work. She’s an active supporter of programs for women and girls and established the Foundation’s everyWoman Campaign, held annually in March.


Back to the top>