Mostly Anglo men are remembered in stone or bronze across Fort Worth: working cowboys, early mayors, humorist Will Rogers and corporate executive Charles Tandy.
Yet only one public statue is devoted specifically to honoring women: “Spirit of Woman,” a Fort Worth Botanic Garden bronze of a pioneer woman.
As many memorials honor Anglo Confederate veterans (four, including two currently in city storage) as they do minorities and women combined (the aforementioned “Spirit,” plus American Indian chief Quanah Parker, rodeo bulldogger Bill Pickett and the unnamed North Side “vaquero”).
If Fort Worth is ready to change that — where do we start?
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Here are a few of the names that came up over and over in conversations with local historians, not as any kind of final list but only as top-of-mind thoughts about Fort Worth figures who deserve more recognition:
The nurses of World War I Camp Bowie
When a 1918 flu pandemic killed more than 1,200 residents of Dallas and Fort Worth, few healthcare workers were more at risk than the U.S. Army nurses at what was then Camp Bowie in west Fort Worth. Nearly 2,000 soldiers were treated, and the victims included many Army nurses serving America for $75 a month.
Gladney (1886-1961) led a statewide and nationwide campaign for children’s rights and adoption from the 1930s to the 1950s, protecting the poor, vulnerable children of the Depression and World War II. Her work finding adoptive homes for 10,000 children was the subject of the 1941 Greer Garson movie “Blossoms in the Dust.”
Dr. Raúl López Guerra
Lopez Guerra (1898-1956) was born and died in León, Guanajuato, but he practiced medicine in Fort Worth for 30 years. He saw patients from across North Texas nine hours a day, seven days a week, regardless of whether they could pay. He and his musician wife, Aurelia, were active in city arts and civic groups, and spoke out against discrimination.
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Hughes (1928- ) is the winningest American boys’ basketball coach of all time, but he also has been a mentor and father figure to hundreds of Fort Worth teenagers over a 47-year career. His coaching career began amid the heartbreak and discrimination of segregation, spanning the civil rights era into the 21st century. He will be inducted Sept. 8 into the sport’s national hall of fame.
Lucas (1902-1990), the greatest rodeo cowgirl and trick rider of all time, joined a Wild West show at 16 and became a star known as “Rodeo’s First Lady.” She was famous for trick riding, but she also rode bulls during World War I to raise money for the Red Cross and rode bucking broncs into her 60s.
William Madison “Gooseneck Bill” McDonald
McDonald (1866-1950), son of a former slave once owned by Ku Klux Klan founder Nathan Bedford Forrest, was an early-20th-century Fort Worth banker described by historians as Texas’ first African-American millionaire. He championed free enterprise and self-reliance, and led Texas Republicans as the state party chairman.
Dr. Riley Ransom
Ransom (1886-1951) was one of the first African-American doctors in Texas and operated one of only three nationally accredited black-owned hospitals, along with a nursing school. He equipped the 20-bed hospital with a state-of-the-art laboratory and X-ray equipment, performed thousands of surgeries and delivered hundreds of babies.
Lucille Bishop Smith
Smith (1892-1985) was a celebrated chef, baker and entrepreneur known for launching the first commercial hot roll baking mix. Over a 50-year career, she taught girls cooking and sewing in segregated Fort Worth schools, catered events, wrote cookbooks and was the first African-American woman to join the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. In 1965, she baked 330 fruitcakes for every local soldier in Vietnam.