Susan Miller Dorsey
At a time when few women went to college, Susan Miller was an 1877 graduate of Vassar. Four years later she returned to Vassar to teach in the classics department. In 1881 Miller married Baptist minister, Patrick Dorsey. They moved to Los Angeles where he accepted a position at the First Baptist Church. While Miller was teaching at Baptist College in Los Angeles, her husband deserted her, taking with him their only child.
Susan Dorsey went on to teach at Los Angeles High School before moving on to a career in school administration. Starting as Vice-Principal of Los Angeles High School, she became assistant superintendent and then Superintendent of Los Angeles City Schools. During her time as superintendent, the public school system experienced rapid growth going from 47,000 students in 1920 to nearly 360,000 by 1929. At the age of 72 years, Dorsey resigned from a third term as superintendent to began a long period of service. She was a charter member of SILA, as such she was instrumental in the formation of the SILA Foundation. Dorsey was the recipient of numerous honors and tributes. Susan Miller Dorsey High School was dedicated in 1937. The Susan Miller Dorsey Hall at Scripps College, houses 70 students, and was financed almost entirely by women.
Lillie's first job was working in a local San Joaquin Valley cannery during the Great Depression. Later she worked a number of part-time jobs to earn her way through U.C. Berkeley undergraduate and law school.
After law school and two years of private practice, Mildred rapidly moved up the judicial ladder:
- In 1947, Governor Earl Warren appointed her to the Los Angeles Municipal Court,
- In 1949, Warren moved her up to the California Superior Court,
- In 1958 Governor Goodwin Knight appointed her to the Court of Appeals,
- And in 1984, Governor George Deukmejian named her Presiding Justice, Court of Appeals, Second Appellate District, where she remained until retirement in October of 2002.
Her success almost resulted in an appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court when President Richard Nixon considered naming her as the first woman justice. The American Bar Association evaluation committee did not approve and the seat was eventually filled by William Rehnquist. Some felt the evaluation committee did not feel it was time to have a woman on that high court. Mildred lived to see Sandra Day O’Connor (a former Soroptimist from SI Phoenix) achieve that milestone.
Before her death, Justice Lillie witnessed the evolution of women into the law profession. “Today more than 50% of the students in our nation’s law schools are women and I have watched with pride the upsurge of women in the profession." Lillie has been characterized as ”the most revered and accomplished jurist in the history of the State of California.” As a tribute to her excellence, the Los Angeles County Law Library building was renamed the Mildred L. Lillie building.
Although Mae graduated from law school, as a woman she could not get a job in the law profession comparable with her education and abilities. But Mae had a very valuable talent: a way with figures. Her mastery over numbers helped her to become the head of accounting for Broadway Department Stores, a position especially significant for a woman in those days, and sometimes even now.
Mae was the first Treasurer of SILA, during which she proposed a buy out of the Soroptimist name. She went on to head the negations with Stuart Morrow, ending up with a payment of $5,500 ($69,685 in today’s dollars).
Muriel attended Stanford University from which she graduated magna cum laude and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa; a year later, in 1935, she earned her Master's Degree. While at Stanford, she met her future husband, Barnard A. Morse, a former Southern California Edison executive.
Morse had a distinguished record as a volunteer; her tireless work as a member of SILA resulted in her election in 1971 to the Presidency of the Soroptimist Federation of the Americas and in 1976 as President of Soroptimist International. In 1954, Muriel preceded Betsy MacCracken as President of Soroptimist International of Los Angeles.
Among her many honors, Mrs. Morse, was named a LA Times Woman of the Year in 1961, had an award named after her by the International Public Management Association, International Public Management Association for Human Resources gives the Muriel M. Morse Achievement Award to a deserving individual who “exemplifies the positive attributes of Muriel Morse.”
Barbara graduated from Redlands High School went on to Redlands University where she took musical classes before transferring to USC to focus on nursing. She graduated from USC in 1950 with a BS and a license as a Registered Nurse and completed her education in 1961 with a Master's from UCLA.
She started her nursing career at California Hospital. She was Director of Nursing and Supervisor of the Newborn Nursery during which she pioneered specialized procedures for premature babies. Her final position at California Hospital was that of Risk Management Director, a relatively new field at that time.
As a SILA member, Barbara has served in many capacities including three terms as club President and as Governor of Camino Real Region, making her a recognized GEM (Governor Ever More) within Soroptimists. She has attended Soroptimist conferences, conventions and other events in Canada, Hawaii and Japan.
During World War II, Betsy joined the WAVES and served as a commissioned U.S. Naval Officer. After the war, she practiced medicine, joining the faculty of the Department of Pediatrics at the College of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons in Los Angeles, and the Pediatrics staff at the LA County Hospital. She earned a Master's in Public Health in 1961 from U.C. Berkeley, after which she joined the LA Board of Public Health, and was named LA County’s Epidemiologist in 1969.
Betsy was an active member of Soroptimist International of Los Angeles, serving as President in 1955-56 and as chair of several committees. Barbara Jury remembers that Betsy was the 1987-88 Fellowship Honoree and was also a Director for the Foundation. “SILA was very important to Aunt Betsy,” noted her niece Susan Hancock. “The support for women, particularly those going to college, was one of her priorities, so the establishment of Soroptimist House and the awarding of scholarships were high on her list and one of the things she loved about SILA.”