Texas Ingenuity History


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Oveta Culp Hobby

The early days of Texas produced a number of independent-minded men and women who made their mark on the world. From one family in Killeen came a baby girl, born in 1905, whose influence would span the entire century from the halls of Texas government to the White House and beyond. Oveta Culp was the second of seven children. She showed early signs that she had an independent streak a mile wide. A story told by her son, Former Lt. Governor William (Bill) Hobby, Jr., took place sometime between her fifth and sixth birthdays. In those days, her mother and many others supported the popular temperance movement (that tended to go hand-in-hand with women's rights.)

One day in her church, Oveta heard a Sunday school lesson on temperance, followed by a call to sign a pledge of abstinence. Almost everyone signed it, except Oveta. She refused, believing that even though she had no desire to drink liquor, she should not make the pledge until she was sure she could keep it.

Early in life, Oveta developed a mature, logical, and common sense type of thinking beyond most kids of her age. From her mother Emma, Oveta learned community service, fairness (her mother campaigned for women's suffrage), and the responsibility of the more fortunate to care for neighbors in need. From her father Ike, Oveta learned the logic of the law and the fickleness of politics. Even while in elementary school, she often sat in her father’s law office and listened to discussions about cases and read law books.

At the age of ten she'd read the Congressional Record and, by thirteen, had read the Bible three times. In 1919, Ike Culp won a seat in the state legislature and Oveta followed him to sit in on the sessions. After graduating from Temple High School with high honors, she attended Mary Hardin Baylor for two years until 1925, when the Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives requested that she serve as legislative parliamentarian.

Continues. . .

Oveta Culp Hobby

Col. Oveta Hobby talks with Auxiliary Margaret Peterson

and Capt. Elizabeth Gilbert at Mitchel Field, 1943.

(Courtesy Library of Congress, LC-USZ62-118263.)

In her tenure, she not only created the WAAC (later the WAC with "Auxiliary" dropped), Oveta became the first woman Colonel in the United States Army. She was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal and several other medals from foreign governments. Continues in book. . .

Texas Tidbit: Hobby Airport in Houston is named for Oveta's husband, former Governor of Texas William Pettus Hobby. The Houston airport, first named Carter Field in 1927, changed names in 1937 to the Houston Municipal Airport, and in 1938, to the Howard Hughes Airport. The Hughes designation had to be dropped after a year when someone discovered that federal funds could not be awarded for an airport named after a living person, so it reverted back to the Houston Municipal Airport. In 1967, the City of Houston renamed it the William P. Hobby Airport.

Oveta Culp Hobby Portrait

Portrait of Oveta Culp Hobby.

(Courtesy of Lt. Gov. William Hobby, Jr.)

The story continues in the book Texas Ingenuity... For complete information on this and other Texas stories...