The Heroines

Clara Thomas Gill

is honored with a Brick from Joyce Gill Stoddart.


The woman I wish to honor on the Plaza of Heroines is my mother, Clara Gill. Born on a farm near Potwin, KS Aug 8, 1907 she graduated from Whitewater High School and immediately began taking summer courses at Wichita University to enable her to have a teacher's certificate. She taught school prior to her marriage and when she became a single mother in 1941 she returned to Wichita University in 1941 for courses that would enable her to renew her teaching certificate.

Though unable to pursue her own degree she was determined that I, her only child, would have the opportunity she did not. It was her attitude that led me, growing up in the 40's to take for granted that I would attend college and graduate. It did not occur to me that I had a choice to quit before graduation as so many girls did who entered University of Wichita in 1951.

To make this possible, my mother quietly and without complaint changed jobs in order to have the money for my school. She made it easy for me to make the most of my years at the University. She was very proud when I graduated in 1955. In 1970 when I decided to attend the School of Social Work at the University of Kansas mother's commitment to education evidenced once again. It was mother who provided the money for a car which enable me to make the hour drive each day that was required. Again, she was at my graduation in 1972. When my daughter attended Kansas State, mother encouraged her and proudly attended her graduation in 1985. Now at 90, she still loves to read and is interested in current events. She likes nothing better than to have a great grandchild read to her. She has passes on to her family a love of reading, a spirit of inquiry and a respect for education.

This Kansas farm girl's response to the circumstances of her life was to become one of the 20th century women who have showed they could accept responsibility for their lives and provide for their loved ones. It is women like my mother who are the heroines that have made it possible for those of us who have followed to further break down barriers to women. I am grateful for the opportunity to honor her in this way.

Joyce Gill Stoddart