Celebrate Women's History Month, Hinsdale-style
Last updated 3/4/2020 at 4:22pm | View PDF
“From the first settlers who came to our shores, from the first American Indian families who befriended them, men and women have worked together to build this nation. Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contribution went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love of the women who built American was as vital as that of the men whose name we know so well.” — President Jimmy Carter
With those words, our nation’s 39th president designated March 2-8, 1980, as National Women’s History Week. Seven years later, Congress passed a law designating March Women’s History Month.
We continue to celebrate the contributions of women each March. The 2020 theme — selected by the National Women’s History Alliance — is “Valiant Women of the Vote.”
The work of suffragettes is certainly something to celebrate, but we’d like to focus on something a little more local this month, namely women who have been part of Hinsdale’s history — or are busy making it.
This list is by no means exhaustive. We’re limited not only by space constraints but by a lack of documentation of many women’s accomplishments. Nevertheless, we hope it inspires readers to learn more about the women who helped shape Hinsdale’s history and those who continue to bring credit to this town.
• Loie Fuller, an actress and dancer in the late 19th and early 20th centuries who was a pioneer of modern dance and theatrical lighting techniques
• Mrs. John Burton, first president of the Woman’s Club in Hinsdale
• Dr. Mary Paulson, who with her husband, Dr. David Paulsen, founded the Hinsdale Sanitarium (now Amita Adventist Medical Center Hinsdale), which opened in June 1905
• Nelle Schmidt, who organized the Hinsdale Red Cross Society in June 1916
• early members of the American Legion Auxiliary, established in 1923, who collected donations from Hinsdale residents to fund the construction of Memorial Hall as a home for village offices and a monument to service members who made the ultimate sacrifice
• Katherine Legge, whose devotion to her husband, Alexander, and employees of International Harvester inspired him in 1927 to donate the land on County Line Road that now bears her name
• Virginia Kettering, who in 1958 with husband Eugene co-founded the Hinsdale Health Museum, predecessor to the Robert Crown Center for Health Education
• Ly Hotchkin, who in 1961 became the first executive director of The Community House, an agency she went on to lead for more than three decades
• Rozanne Bates, who in 1963 co-founded the Hinsdale Assembly, which has raised almost $3 million in support of Hinsdale Hospital
• Rhonda Satkamp, who with husband Steve founded Hinsdale Safety Village after their daughter Katie was struck and killed by a school bus in 1982
• Joyce Skoog, who in April 1993 became the first female village president in Hinsdale’s 120-year history
• Judy Biggert, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1999-2013, the Illinois House of Representatives from 1993-99 and as Hinsdale High School District 86 Board member and president
• Patty Bellock, who was the representative for the Illinois House’s 47th District for 20 years before being named director of the Department of Healthcare and Family Services in 2018
• District 86 Superintendent Tammy Prentiss and board President Nancy Pollak, the first female duo to lead the district
• Tomi Adeyemi, a 2011 Hinsdale Central graduate and author of the best-selling books and upcoming movies “Children of Blood and Bone” and “Children of Virtue and Vengeance”
• Caroline Dolehide, a 21-year-old tennis player from Hinsdale who is currently ranked 31 in doubles and 142 in singles in the world