S. Worthen (owlfish) wrote,
S. Worthen

Dr. Mary Worthen

Last Saturday, in UALR's recently opened atheletic and special events center, my grandmother, Mary Worthen, received an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters for her lifelong work in community and charitable support and involvement, as an Arkansas historian, as a supporter of the arts, and as a support of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. I couldn't be prouder.

The press release announcing the commencement ceremonies only begins to hint at all she's done in her life.

Growing up, I was most aware of her involvement with the history of herbs, and the Herb Society of America. My whole life she's maintained a number of historic herb gardens around the Little Rock area, including one at the Historic Arkansas Museum where we'd go and admire her handiwork. In the National Herb Garden in D.C., a plaque thanks her - among many others - for her contributions to the garden's foundation. Now I know she was also one of the founding members of society's Arkansas chapter.

I knew her work as a historian, for I have my own copy of her The History of Trinity: The Cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of Arkansas, Little Rock, 1884-1995. She was involved in the foundation of the old building museum in Scott, Scott Connections, located just down the road from the farm where she grew up. She was often busy with business connected to downtown Little Rock's historic cemetary, Mount Holly, where she was on the board.

And I knew she was a loyal attender of the symphony and donor to the building of the new downtown central library building. But until I read UALR's write-up of why she was receiving the honorary doctorate, I had no idea just how much more she'd done -

From the late '30s onward, she was involved in volunteer projects to aid children and education, including a Well Baby Clinic, Speech Correction School, and a Children's Theater. She was a member of the Women's Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools during the Central High School desegregation crisis. She's been on the board of UALR's University History Institute, the Arkansas Art Center, Fine Arts Club, and a founder of the Chamber Music Society. And she's published many other things in addition to her history of Trinity, including Matters and Things in General, a book compiling early newspaper extracts illuminating aspects of the state's territorial history, as well as the Mount Holly Cemetary, Little Rock, Arkansas Burial Index, 1843-1993. An article of hers, "The Boathouse: The Athletic Association of Little Rock, 1882-1938", won a local history award from the Arkansas Historical Association.

And these aren't even all of her cited accomplishments, only highlights. My grandmother. Dr. Mary Worthen.

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