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Part 3

100 Movers And Shapers

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Frederick W. Boatwright
(1868-1951) b. White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.
In 1895 this modern languages professor was named head of the then-Baptist affiliated Richmond College and served as president for 51 years. In 1914, despite tremendous financial and political obstacles, he masterminded the fledgling school's move from Lombardy and Grace streets to a 200-acre campus in suburban Westhampton. Here, he established Westhampton College for women, the T.C. Williams School of Law and took the school, now known as the University of Richmond, to university status.

Lucy Randolph Mason
(1872-1959) b. Richmond
"The most amazing thing in the world?" Lucy Randolph Mason once asked rhetorically. "It is the indifference of most of us to what happens to the rest of us." This Virginia blue blood (whose father was an Episcopal minister) spent her life championing the causes of working people, especially women, through improved labor and welfare legislation. She was employed by YWCA International and worked closely with labor powerhouse John Lewis at the Congress of Industrial Organizations, now the AFL-CIO.

Irene Langhorne Gibson
(1873-1956) b. Danville
and Lady Nancy Langhorne Astor
(1879-1964) b. Danville

Tobacco auctioneer Chiswell D. Langhorne moved his family to Richmond from Danville soon after the Civil War seeking economic opportunities. Two of his beautiful daughters soon became belles, not just of their adopted city, but wherever they partied along the Eastern seaboard. As their father grew wealthy through railroad construction, the girls looked northward for worthy suitors. Irene married Charles Dana Gibson, an internationally famous illustrator who created "The Gibson Girl." Their nuptials at St. Paul's Episcopal Church here were heralded as "the wedding of the century." In 1919 outspoken Nancy would marry an impossibly wealthy English lord (heir to an American hotel fortune), William Waldorf Astor, and that same year began an illustrious political career as the first woman member of Britain's House of Commons. She would serve until 1945. Her saucy outspokenness was legendary: "Mr. Prime Minister, if you were my husband I'd poison your drink," she once quipped to Winston Churchill. "If you were my wife, I'd drink it," he replied. The sisters remained wildy popular in Richmond and visited often. "I am a Virginian to the bone," Nancy would proudly tell British voters. When Democrat Al Smith ran for president in 1928 against Herbert Hoover, genteel Irene Gibson campaigned with him in Richmond, breaking the ice before the hard-edged New York governor went to the podium.

Ellen Glasgow
(1873-1945) b. Richmond
When the literati came to town they visited 1 West Main Street. Henry James, Gertrude Stein and H.L. Mencken were all guests of Ellen Glasgow, Richmond's most famous literary daughter. Although her understanding of social mores knew no boundary, her scope of experience was limited to a lifetime spent here. Glasgow's prolific talents as a writer are evidenced by 21 novels and an autobiography, "The Woman Within." Like Lila Valentine and Mary Munford, she was an early feminist and equal-rights advocate. Among her most widely read books are "Barren Ground" and "The Virginians." Three years before her death in 1942, Glasgow won the Pulitzer Prize for "In This Our Life."

Frederick William Sievers
(1873-1966) b. Fort Wayne, Ind.
Sculptor Frederick Sievers moved to Richmond in 1910 when he received the commission for the Virginia monument at the Gettysburg battlefield. Based on the success of his depiction of Robert E. Lee seated on Traveller there, he received the Monument Avenue commissions for the Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson and Matthew Fontaine Maury monuments. His busts of presidents James Madison and Zachary Taylor as well as of Patrick Henry and Sam Houston are in the State Capitol. Sievers' studio was on 43rd Street in Forest Hill.

Virginia Randolph
(1874-1958) b. Richmond
A pioneer educator born of slave parents, Virginia Randolph was educated in Richmond schools and became a disciple of the principles of educator and reformer Booker T. Washington. She stressed industrial and agricultural education as the road to self-reliance and economic independence. In 1892, she opened the Mountain Road School for Negroes in rural Glen Allen, a Henrico public school, which she would head for 57 years.

Dr. Edward N. Calisch
(1875-1946) b. Chicago, Ill.
Dr. Edward N. Calisch came to Richmond in 1891 and for 50 years served as rabbi of Congregation Beth Ahabah. He fostered a sense of fellowship among Richmonders of all faiths. Rabbi Calisch earned a national reputation, and he was often called upon to officiate ceremonies and events of all faiths throughout the nation. Upon his retirement as the rabbi of Beth Ahabah in June of 1945 at the age of 80, Calisch was appointed rabbi emeritus.

Dr. J. Fulmer Bright
(1877-1953) b. Richmond
This dentist, anatomy professor and eloquent but irascible ultra-conservative politician was Richmond's longest-running mayor - for 16 years from 1924-1940. J. Fulmer Bright fought all attempts at municipal reform and any efforts to build federally funded housing, calling his approach to governance "horse and buggy." But during the Depression, the brilliant orator lured public funds to Richmond for bridge-building and other municipal projects. He bequeathed his estate to recreational, religious and other community causes.

May Keller
(1878-1964) b. Baltimore, Md.
When Richmond College moved from Lombardy Street to a new suburban West End campus in 1914, it initiated coordinate education and engaged May Keller as the first dean of Westhampton. Insistent that the women's college "across the lake" not be a finishing school, she was extremely demanding both academically and personally. Throughout her 32-year tenure, men and women students quaked in her presence. Keller's voice was so powerful it reportedly could "snap steel like scissors."

Bill "Bojangles" Robinson
(1878-1949) b. Richmond
Born in Jackson Ward and orphaned, this versatile performer conquered Broadway and Hollywood by tap dancing. The first black to have a solo act in white vaudeville, in 1937 Bill "Bojangles" Robinson was named "outstanding stage and screen star of the year" by a popular movie magazine. His films with Shirley Temple made him millions, and he generously gave much away. A sculpture by Richmond sculptor Jack Witt was erected in 1973 at Adams, Leigh and Chamberlayne near the spot where the entertainer once donated a

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