On 14 October 1999, the Soldier/Civilian Support Center at Fort Lee, VA and later the Oveta Culp Hobby Soldier and Family Readiness Center, Fort Hood, TX were dedicated in memory of Colonel Oveta Culp Hobby. Colonel Hobby was the first director of the Woman's Army Auxiliary Corps and Women's Army Corps in WWII as well as the first Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare. Brigadier General (Ret.) Elizabeth P Hoisington, seventh Director of the Women's Army Corps served as guest speaker. A commemorative plaque was unveiled by Hobby's son The Honorable William P. Hobby (former lieutenant governor of Texas) and her grandson William H. Catto and his family.
Oveta Culp Hobby
Oveta Culp Hobby was born 19 January 1905, raised in Killeen, Texas. After attending Baylor College, Waco, Texas she married William P. Hobby who served as the Publisher of the Houston Post, and as Governor of the state of Texas. They had two children; William, Jr. and Jessica.
She began her career while serving as the Parliamentarian of the Texas Legislature from 1926-1931, followed by a ten year career at the Houston Post. During her time at the Houston Post, she authored a book on parliamentary procedure titled Mr. Chairman in 1938.
Following her remarkable accomplishments at the Houston Post, Hobby was called upon to serve as the Chief, Women's Interest Section, Bureau of Public Affairs for the War Department. She served in this position for one year before becoming the first woman sworn into the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), at which time she was appointed as its Director. She became the first woman sworn into the Women's Army Corps (WAC) on 5 July 1943, and appointed as a Colonel in the Army of the United States as she continued in her position as the Director.
After setting the stage for the creation of the WAC, Colonel Hobby built the Corps to a strength of over 100,000 by April 1944. Hobby established procedures and policies for recruitment, training, administration, discipline, assignment, and discharge for the WAAC and the WAC. She surmounted enormous difficulties in arranging for the training, clothing, assignments, recognition, and acceptance of women in the Army and in achieving legislative action that gave members of the WAAC/WAC the rights and privileges of soldiers in the Army of the United States. She made it possible for women to serve in over 400 non-combat military jobs while serving at posts throughout the United States and in every overseas theater.
Colonel Hobby resigned from the Army because of poor health on 12 July 1945. General George C. Marshall, Army Chief of Staff, conferred on her the Distinguished Service Medal, the highest military decoration given for meritorious service. She was the first and only WAC to receive this medal during World War II.
Hobby was later called upon by President Eisenhower to serve as the first Secretary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare from 1953-1955. After serving as the only woman in President Eisenhower's cabinet, she returned to her career with the Houston Post. Upon the death of her husband in 1964, she assumed full responsibility for the newspaper and its radio and TV stations and other holdings. In 1983, she sold the newspaper but continued to be active in family, business, civic, and social affairs.
In 1978, Colonel Hobby was awarded the George Catlett Marshall Medal from the Association of the United States Army for meritorious public service, and the Alumni Association Gold Medal for Distinguished Public Service from Rice University. In 1995, Colonel Hobby was inducted into the George C. Marshall Foundation Hall of Honor for her contributions to the Marshall Foundation, and was later honored by the dedication of the Oveta Culp Hobby University Center at Fort Hood, Texas. In 1996 Colonel Hobby was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame which recognizes outstanding women in America.
Colonel Hobby died on 16 August 1995 and was buried in Houston, Texas.
Army Woman's Museum
Fort Lee, Virginia