DES MOINES, Iowa — Three new plaques adorn the Iowa Women of Achievement Bridge in Des Moines.
The women being honored are Theresa “Billee” Davis, Willie Glanton and Ola Miller.
“Each one of them represents incredible heart, perseverance, grit. They succeeded in the context of pretty incredible times,” said Tiffany O’Donnell, CEO of Woman Lead Change
Davis, from Oskaloosa, commanded a classified World War II operation with the Women’s Army Corps and was the first woman attorney to become a member of the Mahaska County Bar Association.
Glanton was a champion for civil rights and the first African American woman to serve in the Iowa Legislature. Passing away in 2017, Glanton served as a lawyer with the U.S. Small Business Administration for 22 years.
Miller was active in the women’s suffrage movement and became Iowa’s first female Secretary of State. She was also instrumental in the creation of the Iowa Highway Patrol.
“I think more than ever it’s important to us to see these examples of the women who have done incredible work to get us to where we are today. Often times our young people need to see it to be it,” said O’Donnell.
As Iowa celebrates these women, so do their familes, like Billee Davis’ nephew Joe Crookham.
“Billee was pretty blunt and straightforward to people. She had a genuine heart but she was never going to show it to anybody. She was just really a neat person who cared a lot and willing to work awfully hard to make things happen,” said Crookham.
Crookham says more than anything, his aunt would be overjoyed to be in the company she is in now.
“Billee wouldn’t be thrilled with her being recognized in one sense, but on the other hand she would absolutely be blown away by being recognized with these other two ladies and the wonderful things they’ve done,” he said.
Davis passed away in 1979.