Mary Eloise Donnell (Mrs. Frank) de Garmo Administration
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
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