FIRST WOMEN OF KERN COUNTY
Ahl, Jymme Lyn
One of the first four women hired at the same time by the Kern County Fire Department as a full time permanent firefighter (1986). Jymme is now an engineer at Station 61, the Fruitvale-Norris station. The other three first women county firefighters were: Susan Schaefer, Carrie Gleason-Schreffler and Melayne Theroux. Of the original four, two no longer are firefighters. Carrie Gleason-Schreffler is an engineer in Lamont.
Librarian who initiated and drove the first Book Mobile.
Baker Tracy, Ellen M. Whalen
Established the first school in Bakersfield. The wife of Colonel Thomas Baker, Mary Baker taught in her home at 19th and "N" Streets until a private teacher was hired (1863).
First artist to live in Bakersfield (1880's) Miss Baker was the daughter of Colonel Baker. Her art is part of a collection belonging to the Kern County Museum.
BALFANZ, (ELSA) KATHRYN
First woman city council person - Bakersfield (1957-1967)
First graduate of Cal State Bakersfield (1971)
Barnes, Florence 'Pancho'
Set the new world's speed record for women at 196.19 mph (1930) The previous record was held by Amelia Earhart.
First teacher in Walker Basin (1877). Possibly the first adult school teacher in Kern County. She gave evening instruction to a young Irish worker in Caliente in the 1880's.
BENNETT, DR. JEAN
First woman to head the 8,500 member Optical Society of America (1987). She also was the first woman to earn a PHD in physics at Pennsylvania State University.
Bird, Grace Van Dyke
First woman to be named dean of a public junior college in California (Bakersfield College - 1920).
First person to fly a solar powered airplane (1976).
Burcham, Dr. Rose La Monte
First woman to develop and manage a mine in Kern County (Yellow Aster Mine - Randsburg, 1895) She was also the first woman medical doctor in Kern County (1895).
First woman to exceed the speed of sound at Edwards Air Force Base. She did this in an F-86 on May 18, 1953.
Dodge, Mary Holman
First woman peace officer in Kern County. Mary Holman Dodge was hired by the Bakersfield Police Department as a police officer in July 1941.
Dorris, Grace Story
First of three women elected to the California State Assembly in 1918. She introduced the resolution urging Congress to support the women's suffrage movement.
First airplane passenger in Kern County May 4, 1912. Ms. Emmons paid $100 for an 1100 foot flight that lasted only twenty seconds in Edison. Many local residents also paid money to watch this spectacular event.
Felton enjoyed a 39-year career with the Kern County High School District. During that time she was instrumental in founding the Volleyball Officials Association in 1975 when volleyball was first introduced to the girl's athletic program. She officiated at high school and college games for over 18 years, as well as State Championship tournaments. First and only woman inducted into the Kern County Officials Hall of Fame (1995).
Finch, Betty Shaneyfelt
First woman Bailiff in Kern County (1979). In 1980, she became the first woman assigned to Ridgecrest Substation Patrol duties.In 1983, Betty Shaneyfelt became the first female homicide detective.
Frankel, Helen Bruce
First woman coroner in California and the first and last woman coroner in Kern County (1982)
FRIEDMAN, DR. GLORIA PANANIDES
First NCAA sanctioned coach in Kern County. She was also the first university female coach and administrative founder of Women's University Athletic NCAA in Kern County.
Owned Garratt Electric in Taft (1928-1961), First woman to run such a business in California. She was also the first woman on the Taft City Council (1946-1954)
First woman appointed and elected County Clerk (1952). Miss Gibson was also the first to receive Kern County Bar Association Bench & Bar Award (1979).
GIFFORD, DR. MYRNIE
First person to suspect there was a relationship between Valley Fever and the specific fungus found in the sputum of patients with Valley Fever (1930's).
First woman to become Vice President & County Manager for Transamerica Title Insurance (after 1962).
First woman elected to the Ridgecrest City Council.
Greene, Margie Ochoa
First woman elected Commander of the Bakersfield Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7216.
First children’s program specialist hired by Kern County Library System.Organized children’s collection & supervised its implementation (1921-1928)
First woman president of a newspaper in Kern County (The Bakersfield Californian).She took over after her husband Alfred Harrell died in 1946.
HAWKINS, FAITH L.
First female television weather forecaster (1953-55). Ms. Hawkins worked at KERO TV (then Channel 10)
Mari was the first woman firefighter hired by the City of Bakersfield in May
1981. She was promoted to engineer November 1986 and left to work for the Napa Fire Department in March 1989.
Hoenshell was the first female chemistry professor to teach in Kern County. She was refused admission to Stanford because she was a woman, so she attended USC. Known as "Horrible Hattie", all football players had to pass her course or they were not allowed to play. This included local sports legend Frank Gifford.
Appointed first personnel director of Bakersfield City Schools by John Compton (1944). She was also the first to plan and execute recruitment of teachers from out of state.Dorothy Mae Gibson was her assistant.
IRVIN, MARIAN S.
First woman City Clerk of Bakersfield (1951).
First woman owner of a radio station in Kern County. She and her husband Charles H.Jones started KCHJ Radio in 1951. The station broadcasted "Starlight Memories", sounds from the big-band era. Many years later Paul Harvey mentioned the station's format on his radio show.
First woman to operate the Kersey Stage Station and mining camp in the Piute Mountain District (1870).In the pioneer days, this was a stage station and store on the old Gold Trail which ran between Visalia and Havilah, and south to Los Angeles. Mrs. Kersey also owned a cattle ranch and several successful gold mines.She later became an “Indian Agent” because of her ability to communicate with her Piute neighbors and the need for English speaking people to do business with them.
Founded the Kern County Medical Assistants Association in order to provide better public relations in the field of medicine (1952).She also created night school classes for medical office assisting at Bakersfield College.Prior to her death in 1994, Mrs. Kimble founded the Kern Chapter of the Scleroderma Research Foundation as a local source of information about the disease.
Prior to the creation of the Kern County Library system, the Women's Club of Bakersfield organized the first circulating library in the area (1896). Ms. Knight was the first librarian.
KOERBER, BERENICE FRITTS
First woman Chairman of the Board/President of a newspaper in Kern County (The Bakersfield Californian)
Ms. Kumli was the first Kern County Librarian. She held that position from November 1, 1911 until December 1912.
First woman Economic Development Director for the City of Bakersfield (2001)
LANIER, PEGGY RUSSELL
First woman competitive bodybuilder (1979).In 1978, Ms. Lanier started competitive power lifting with one other woman. She set the state squat record of 270 lbs., which stood for several years.
First woman supervisor elected in Kern County (1982).
LAVERS, MARY ENGLE
First married teacher with a family ever to be hired by the Bakersfield City Schools.Ms. Lavers was born in the late 1800’s and died in1972.She went to work because her husband became ill and she needed to support her family (around 1920’s).
LE FLOHIC, CECILE & LUCIENNE
In 1978, these twin sisters were reputed to be the longest-lived twins in Kern County.The were born in France in approximately 1880.
LEE, DR. BELLE MACFARLAND
First woman to join the Kern County Medical Society (1889). Also one of the first woman doctors in Kern County.
LINZ, MRS. FRED
First person to ever drive an automobile into a courthouse (1904). Mrs. Linz drove a one-cylinder Rambler up the front Chester Ave steps of the old courthouse, now known as City Hall.
Love, Dr. Ruth
Only female school superintendent in California (late '70's - 1982). Dr. Love was superintendent of Oakland Public Schools.She graduated from Bakersfield High School in 1950 and was discouraged from taking college prep classes by her high school counselor. Undaunted, Ms. Love attended Bakersfield College and transferred to San Jose State University, where she realized her lifelong dream of becoming a teacher.
First woman publisher- editor of a newspaper in Bakersfield (El Mexicalo,1980). One of two co-founders of the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
MAY, DR. LUCILLE B.
First woman to be elected president of the Kern County Medical Society (1941).She was an OB/GYN who began her practice in Bakersfield in 1925.
Mettler, Honorable Sharon
First woman to be appointed municipal court judge in Kern County Judge Mettler was appointed to the West Kern Municipal Court (1981).
First woman to have a city named after her in Kern County (1862/1864?).Kelso was renamed “Claraville” because Clara was the daughter of a local miner and was born in the miner’s camp located there.
First woman Deputy Sheriff hired by Kern County to perform the same job as a man (1975) She was also the first to be assigned to regular patrol duty.
First woman appointed to serve on the Kern County Board of Trade (1978).Ms. Nelson was also the first woman to be elected president.
OSTERKAMP, DR. DALENE
First Women's Studies teacher in Bakersfield. Co-Founder of the first Women's Center located at Bakersfield College. In 1989 she was the first to publish research in the area of gender differences in preferences of subject matter and configurations using art images produced over twenty years by Bakersfield College students.
Only female distaft member at the Mojave train depot in the early 1900's. She was listed as a "crack telegrapher".
First woman to own a television station in Kern County (KDOB TV 45 - 1988).
PARKER, CAPT. JACQUELYN S.
First woman Airforce Test Pilot at Edwards AFB (July 1988).
First woman president of the California Downtown Business Association (CDA).The CDA started in Bakersfield in 1971 with a cadre of businessmen.The organization now represents over 100 cities statewide.
Mrs. Preble was the first Postmistress in Mojave (1897).
First woman city council person in Shafter.
QUARNSTROM, HONORABLE ELLEN
First known female attorney in Bakersfield (1950). In 1957, she was appointed judge of the Weedpatch Judicial District, making her the first female to be appointed as a judge in Kern County.
RANKIN, HELEN CROSS
Pioneer in the Field of Agritourism. Her family had owned what is known as the Rankin Ranch since 1863. In 1965, Helen diversified the family cattle ranch to include a "guest ranch". People from all over the world have visited the ranch to observe the day to day operations. They leave with a better understanding of agriculture and it's importance to the world economy
ROGERS, DORA BELLE HARRIS
Only woman to ever be a candidate for Kern County Superintendent of Schools.She was defeated (1875).
Rosenstein, Rabbi Cheryl
First woman rabbi in Kern County (1990).
Spearheaded the founding of Bakersfield Airpark (mid to late 1940’s). First woman to train Israeli pilots in Kern County (1947).
First woman producer/director and host of a television talk show (The Sunny Today Show, 1968).Almost 2500 shows aired weekday mornings. Believing that existing TV programs did not meet the needs and interests of viewers, Sunny originated a morning program with such a variety of guests and subjects that the program became nationally recognized.While talk shows are common today, there were no programs like this on the air in the late ‘60’s.
First woman president in the 75 year history of the Bakersfield Association of Realtors (1984). This organization has more than 1000 members.
Shell, Mary K.
First woman to be elected Mayor of Bakersfield (1980).
First woman California Highway Patrol officer (1981/82).
First woman to get married in Kern County.Martha married Sheriff W. B. Ross in 1866.
First woman City Attorney of Bakersfield (1993).
First woman brakeman in Kern County.
First woman from Kern County to play tennis at Wimbledon (1946).
Stevens, Lucretia H.
First president of the Women’s Club (1886).
STEM, SUSAN LEDBETTER
First woman to join Carpenter’s Union, Local #743 as an apprentice (1974).
STILES HOPKINS, MARGE
First female meteorologist for the weather bureau at Meadows Field(1942). In 1955, Marge Stiles went to KERO TV and worked as a well-known local weathercaster until she retired in 1974.
First woman pilot to fly over Kern County (December 6, 1917). Ms. Stinson made an air trip from San Diego to San Francisco via Tehachapi at the altitude of 9000 ft.
Taylor, Natalie Dunn
First American to win the world women’s crown for figure roller-skating in Rome (1976).A few months prior to this championship, Ms. Dunn suffered a broken kneecap.
First woman principal in history of Kern High School District.She became principal of South High School in July of 1979.
Thorner, Dr. Juliet
First resident children’s physician at Kern General Hospital (1937), Dr. Thorner was also a leader in providing girls with information on menstruation and sexual growth through elementary school seminars at a time when this was not common.
TRACY, FANNIE C. ROWLEE
First Ostrich Farm Owner 1906. Known as the "Buttonwillow Bird lady", she put on fashion teas to showcase her Ostrich feather creations which were sold throughout California. One of the delicacies served to guests were petits fours made from ostrich eggs. Her business was located on Chester Lane in Bakersfield. The original pair of ostriches eventually multiplied to a total of 174 birds.
TYLER, REV. CAROLYN
First woman pastor at Cain AME Church (1983)
Miss Tyler was the first female phone operator in Bakersfield (1893). She served 44 customers at the rear of Baer's Drugstore, located at the corner of 19th and Chester Ave.
Turner, Wilda Mae
First woman inducted into the Bob Elias Hall of Fame (1975). Ms. Turner was an extremely good softball pitcher and the first woman pro softball manager (1952).
First soprano from Kern County to win the Metropolitan Opera national auditions (1960).A native of Delano, Ms. Valente has become a world renowned opera singer.
First woman department head in the City of Bakersfield. Ms. Waiters became the Assistant City Manager in 1993.
First woman director of Kern County Waste Management (1992)
First woman to be elected as Mayor of Wasco (2001)
Established the first kindergarten in Bakersfield. (1863)
Winner of more junior titles (15) than any other U.S. Tennis player in her age group.(1980’s?)
Winters, Pearl Lowery
First woman from Kern County to perform at a presidential ball (1901). Ms. Winters had a beautiful contralto voice. She sang for President William McKinley at his second inaugural ball. He nicknamed her the “ Nightingale of California.”
WISEMAN, HONORABLE REBECCA
First woman to be appointed as a judge to the 5th District Court (1995?)
WONG, VIOLET LEONG
First president of the Chinese Women’s club organized in 1946.
Set absolute distance record for non-refueled flight with Dick Rutan.They flew 25,012 miles over 9 days (December 1986).
YOUNGER, BETTY HOENSHELL
First metal sculptor to win an Olympic medal. In 2000, Younger won a Silver Olympic medal for her sculpture entitled "The Flame". Artists were asked to submit their work as part of the sculpture division at the United States Olympic Committee Sport Art Competition 2000.
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