Oveta Culp Hobby, publisher of the Houston Post, began her career of public service at age 20 when she became the first woman parliamentarian of the Texas House of Representatives. In 1929, she joined the staff of the Post, where she met and married former governor William Hobby. During World War II, she worked for the War Department and was appointed commander of the Women's Auxiliary Army Corps (WAACs). Colonel Hobby had "auxiliary" dropped from the name and increased the number of Army job classifications for women from 54 to 239. In 1945, she became the first woman to receive the Distinguished Service Cross. She later served under President Eisenhower as the first Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare. She took over the reins of the Post when her husband died in 1964 and was elected to the Texas Women's Hall of Fame in 1984.
Written by Cynthia J. Beeman
Read by Sara Hickman
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 Postnewspaper. 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 Postand 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.
William P. Hobby, Jr., "HOBBY, OVETA CULP," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fho86).
Oveta Culp Hobby and the Women’s Army Corps historical marker file (Bell County), Texas Historical Commission, Austin.
Biography Source Information
Biographies are reprinted from the Foundation for Women’s Resources (now Women’s Resources), Dallas, Texas. They originally appeared in "From Gutsy Mavericks to Quiet Heroes: True Tales of Texas Women," video study guide, Austin: The Foundation for Women's Resources, 1997. Death dates have been added where needed.
Audio Source Information
Our project, "Texas Women's History Moments," received the 2012 National Council on Public History Outstanding Public History Award and the American Association for State and Local History Leadership in History Award. The audio clips were broadcast on KUT radio from 2011-2016 during Women’s History Month.