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Roanoke Times August 15, 1944


Women On College Boards Full-Fledged Members

Attend First Meeting With Group Consistently Male For 72 Years

By Virginia Waller Davis

Richmond, August 14 (AP). ---

When, in 1872 the General Assembly of Virginia established the Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical college, now the Virginia Polytechnic Insatiate in Montgomery county and authorized the appointment of nine persons as "visitors of the said college", not even the barest mention was made of even one of these being a woman. The worthy members of the General Assembly would probably have said what is this world coming to if they had even dreamed that the General Assembly of 1944 would make the presence of women on the board mandatory, but they did, and not just one woman, four! And, going 'all out' for the ladies, they also approved the merger of VPI and Radford Woman's college.

Have Taken Plunge
Straight-away appointed by the governor, the four women selected have already taken the plunge, attended their first meeting with this board consistently male for 72 years and are now full fledged working members. They are bound to their sisters on the University of Virginia board by one common interest -- the advancement of the cause of education. All four are college trained, three are Virginians by birth and one by adoption, and one has the distinction not only of being a graduate of Radford herself and having a graduate daughter, but also of being the daughter-in-law of Radford's founder and first president, the late Dr. John Preston McConnell.

Martha Townsend McConnell of Radford, wife of Dr. R. L. McConnell, is only coming into her own when she takes her place on the board. Married to the son of the founder of Radford, its problems and its interests are both an old and a new story to her. As a student of Radford and a member of the family of the founder, it is old and dear -- as the mother of a present day Radford graduate with a son a freshman at VPI, the story is brought right up to date.

Before her marriage Mrs. McConnell taught briefly in Lunenburg county, where she was born, and since adopting Radford as home, has thrown her hat in the ring as an active worker in all its interests. Generally described as "beloved", she has been clerk of the city elections, is a member of the city Democratic committee has served as co-chairman of the women war finance committee, secretary and treasurer of the Woman's club, registrar of the UDC, has been active in church and girl scout work and many other undertakings.

Needs No Introduction
Mrs. Cynthia A. Boatwright of Coeburn (Mrs. R. G.), the dynamo of the great southwest, needs no introduction to the people of Virginia, and to enumerate her activities is well nigh impossible. Probably best known as the recent president of the Virginia Federation of Women's Clubs, to which office she advanced by leaps and bounds from being district president of the state federation, to state vice president of the Wise County Federation of Women's Clubs, she has almost as many other interests as a rainbow has colors. In church, welfare, health, politics, education, music, Red Cross and other civic interests, she is a leader. It was through her intense interest in the problems of the women working their way through college that the scholarship loan fund at Radford was established, and this has now been named the "Cynthia A. Boatwright student loan fund." She was the first woman in Wise county to run for public office and, to the surprise of her more timid sisters not only won, but for two terms kept the job of town councilwoman. She served for six years as executive secretary of the eastern Wise county Red Cross, giving her time and services. Her only daughter is a graduate of Radford, (she herself graduated from Virginia Intermont college in Bristol) and her newly acquired son-in-law, now a lieutenant in the army, is a graduate of VPI.

A Busy Person
Mrs. Elizabeth T. Walton, wife of former State Senator H. H. Walton of Fredericks Hall, has so many things to keep her busy that she is a real example of the old saying, go to a busy person if you want to get something done --she does. As secretary and treasurer of the Walton Lumber company she has enough to nearly fill a day, but as mother of four, the oldest just out of high school, she has enough to run these days completely over. Overtime work for her includes many other things, such as being chairman of the public relations committee of the Federation of Home Demonstration Clubs, of which she recently completed a term as president. But these are just a starter and she doesn't let any of it worry her. Born in Louisa and educated in the county public schools, James City county high school (incidentally was a 4-H girl) and William and Mary college, she deserted college for teaching and marriage. Living in a rural area she has thrown herself into all activities of rural organizations, and had the distinction of being named as delegate to the triennial conferences of the Associated county Women of the World, held in London in 1939. She is a life member of this organization, is a member of the state farm labor committee and the state agricultural planning committee and a former member of the state agri-[end of article unavailable]


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