Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Kitzmiller and Roundy were founders of the Hudson chapter, LWV

Because the Hudson chapter of the League of Women Voters is celebrating its 7oth anniversary in December, they asked me to help research some of the charter members of the group founded in 1938. One look at the names told me that most of the women were associated with WRA either as staff, faculty wives, or as the mothers of WRA students. Helen Haldy Kitzmiller, who for many years was a Special Assistant to the Headmaster, came to Hudson in 1925 when her husband, Harrison, came to teach French and German at WRA. Both continued with the school for the next 30 years.

Helen Kitzmiller was a force for good in the community, and it is not a surprise that she would be the founding member of the LWV chapter. She had already helped the school recover some of its traditions by tracing down alumni and former faculty, and she had written a booklet published in 1926 at the time of the WRA centennial. In the 1930's she was responsible for the Garden Shows held at Cutler Hall and was involved with the founding of the Hudson Garden Club in 1933. When she launched the LWV chapter, she called on her colleagues here at the school and they responded readily. During World War II, Mrs. Kitz (as she was fondly called), was the one who initiated the people-to-people effort for the relief of Wester Soubourg, Holland, a town that had suffered when the dams were leveled by Allied bombers, and from which town the bell in our Chapel had been cast in 1611. Her determination to help our Dutch friends became a town-wide project, and after the War ended, there were still Wester Soubourg Days in Hudson to benefit the town. Eventually, she was invited to Holland to receive formal thanks from the town and its Mayor, and in 1955 she and her husband went there for the celebration. They continued their European trip by going to Germany, and then to Spain where Mrs. Kitz died unexpectedly in Barcelona in February, 1956. The Hudson Times commented that "Hudson has lost one her most devoted daughters." Mrs. Kitzmiller left a legacy to the LWV to support educational opportunities for its members, and that fund is still active today.

Elinor N. Roundy came to Hudson with her husband, Paul, in 1932, when he joined the WRA faculty as a teacher of History and English. A Vassar graduate, Elinor initially was another of the faculty wives living on campus, and in that capacity she became an early member of the Hudson Chapter LWV. But in 1949 she became the first woman faculty member since WRA had become an all-boys school in 1926. For the next 20 years, Elinor Roundy would more than hold her own among an all-male faculty. She was an outstanding English teacher and remembered fondly by many of her former students. She was recalled as "intelligent, thorough, and elegant, and intimidating." Elinor N. Roundy was also known for her wit, her beautiful parties, her sophistication and her laugh. She was also a great supporter of WRA's sports teams, always attended athletic events, and was even awarded a letter "R" for her intense loyalty. The Roundys retired to Bellows Falls, Vermont in 1970, and Elinor lived until 1987. The following year the school announced the creation of the Paul and Elinor Roundy Chair in History and Literature, funded by their grateful students.