Texas Women’s History Month: Oveta Culp Hobby
OVETA CULP HOBBY
One of the most accomplished Texas women of the 20th century, Oveta Culp Hobby excelled in numerous ways, including as the first director of the Women’s Army Corps. A native of Killeen, Hobby developed an interest in politics and the law at an early age. She worked as a reporter for the Austin Statesman, and at age 20 served as parliamentarian of the Texas House of Representatives. She married former Texas governor William P. Hobby in 1931, and they were the parents of a daughter, Jessica, and a son, future Texas Lieutenant Governor Bill Hobby.
In 1942, with the country deep in the throes of World War II, Oveta Culp Hobby was appointed director of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, which soon became part of the U.S. Army as the Women’s Army Corps. Under Colonel Hobby’s leadership, more than 99,000 women served as WACs during the war. She returned to Houston in 1945, where she helped run the family-owned Houston Post newspaper. President Dwight Eisenhower appointed her the first Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare in 1953, and she oversaw the creation and organization of the new federal agency. Returning to Houston again in 1955, she served as president of the Post and remained an influential business and civic leader until her death in 1995 at age 90. In 2007, the Texas Historical Commission placed a historical marker in Killeen honoring Mrs. Hobby’s military service.