Vivian CastleberryHelen GreenDr. Joyce KimbleLouise Raggio

 

Louise Raggio: Lawyer

Louise Raggio: Lawyer Where do you start with Louise Raggio? To which achievement do you first point? How about that she was the first woman Director of the State Bar of Texas in its 100 year-plus history? Or that she’s called “The Mother Of Family Law In Texas?” Life Fellow of the American Bar Foundation? Texas Women’s Hall of Fame inductee?

These honors and the recognition they imply were far from the mind of the woman who in the early 1950’s had to search for two years after college graduation just to find a job. Respect and admiration were yet to come as she cleared the dishes after preparing and serving dinner to her husband and three little boys. Everyday Louise grabbed her books, said goodbye, and rode her bicycle to the SMU School of Law.

But she wasn’t welcome there. “The faculty at SMU didn’t want me because they said I was taking the place of a man that would do something with the degree,” recalls Louise, “and that was very true, because there were no jobs for women lawyers in Dallas. No firm would hire a woman.” Louise persevered, despite so many roadblocks. “It was scary then. If I needed a loan I couldn’t have gotten a loan for 25 cents. I used to have to run and get my husband to sign a paper because I as a married woman did not have the right to do it.”

This tiny, outspoken woman, this force of nature eventually became known as “The Texas Tornado.” Deeply concerned about the plight of abused women, she always made room in her practice to fight for their rights. Once, when Louise was lobbying for one of the first women’s shelters, a legislator came to her office asking if “there’s anything to this abused women thing?” “Let me take you out to the cemetery,” she offered, “and show you where some of my clients are buried.”

 

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