Mary Eloise Donnell (Mrs. Frank) de Garmo Administration 1936-1938


     Mary Eloise Donnell born on November 3, 1865 in Covington, Kentucky attended school in Missouri and graduated high school at 12 years of age.  She continued her education at the Seminary in Lexington, Kentucky and later enrolled in a state university in Indiana.  Graduating three years later she became principal of schools in Sedalia Missouri and later taught English and History at the State Normal College in Warrensburg, Missouri.  In 1890 she married Frank de Garmo and they had two daughters.  The family moved to Shreveport, La., where de Garmo began the Mother’s Union and the Shreveport Training School for girls.  She became the president of the Louisiana Congress of mothers and sold her suggestion of the “better babies contest” to Woman’s Home Companion.  This program became the impetus for other programs, which tested children’s health.  Because of her efforts President Theodore Roosevelt chose de Garmo as the “first woman collaborator in the United States Department of Agriculture office of Public Roads.”  This position afforded de Garmo with ample opportunities to present lectures throughout the United States.

     The family then moved to St. Louis, Missouri where de Garmo organized the American War Mothers, The Parent Teacher Association of St. Louis and the Mother’s Congress.  She also became the chairman of the state Memorial Tree organization and joined the committee to honor Charles A. Lindbergh and his trans-Atlantic flight.  De Garmo initiated a Gold Star Tree Court, which commemorated soldiers from WWI and later found the Gold Star Highway.  This project involved every state naming a stretch of highway to commemorate the loss of war dead.  In 1912 she also established a memorial for the Pathfinders of Missouri.

     The De Garmos then moved to Corpus Christi where she continued her civic work in the Sparkling City.  While here she instigated the construction of the Gold Star Court of Honor located between Upper and Lower Broadway near the Corpus Christi Cathedral.  This WWI monument commemorated the soldiers from Corpus Christi who lost their lives.  De Garmo also initiated the construction of the Centennial Museum in South Bluff Park, which housed the material from the Book Stall Loan Library Exhibit.  This exhibit consisted of books and materials from pioneering families of Corpus Christi.  De Garmo also started the Memory Gardens located behind Spohn hospital.  She was also a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.  One of her most lasting accomplishments in Corpus Christi was her compilation of the history of many families in the area.  Her articles originally published in the Corpus Christi Times in 1935 and 1936 were eventually printed in a book entitled “ Pathfinders of Texas.”  After writing other books and articles as well as having a long life of civic service, Mary de Garmo passed away in Chicago on September 24, 1953.



While de Garmo was in office as President of the Woman’s Monday Club:


  • Donated prints for the La Retama Public Library’s picture gallery.

  • They also participated in the “University of Education for Living Program” sponsored by the General Federation of Women’s Clubs.

  • Assisted in providing loans for several students to finish school.

  • Finally the club gave donations for the community chest and the Girls Friendly Society.


Compiled by Cecilia Gutierrez Venable



Corpus Christi Public Library Special Collections De Garmo Papers Collection #10

Woman’s Monday Club Scrapbook #1 p. 33 & 34

Corpus Christi Caller Times



Mrs. Frank de Garmo


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