Home Opinion The women of Greene County, part II

The women of Greene County, part II


As mentioned last week, March is Women’s History Month. A great number of women have contributed to the welfare of this county. Today I will mention more.

Helen Brantley was born in Greene County in 1921 and lived here until her death in 1996. She may be remembered as being an administrator of Hospitality Nursing Home in Xenia for many years. As a child she attended grammar school at Collins School later graduating from Xenia High School.

Following her graduation, she worked at Patterson Field (now part of Wright-Patterson AFB) where she met her help-mate for life, Virgil Brantley. They were wed in 1942 and he was stationed for a time in Alabama. They returned to Ohio and opened Hospitality West in 1963 and Hospitality East in 1972. They retired and sold the business in 1984.

One of her dreams was to open her elementary school for students to be able to learn more about the earlier types of education. Collins School was purchased and a great deal of work was required to restore the building to original condition. She insisted that everything in the school — desks, blackboard, etc., — look like the original, including the yellow violets which had grown near the building when she was a child. The school opened in 1986 with children from many elementary schools invited to spend a day at Collins School. They dressed appropriately for the era, brought their lunches, pumped water from the well, used the “outhouse” and played a number of games such as jump rope and throwing a ball over the building for those on the other side to catch. She personally greeted each student upon arrival and two very-qualified teachers taught reading, writing, and arithmetic as it had been taught many years ago. More than 30,000 students have enjoyed a day at the school. She was the recipient of many awards for her service to the community, not only for the school but for the other volunteer activities which kept her busy. She was the recipient of the Torrence Award and was inducted into the Greene County Women’s Hall of Fame. She served as co-chairman for the American Heritage Essay Contest for three years at the National level.

Another Greene County native was Louise Hutchison. She was born on the family farm on Clifton Road and spent her entire 95 years at that residence. She accepted a position as a librarian at the Greene County library where she worked for more than 30 years. She always loved local history and library patrons often asked her to help find reference materials for them regarding their family histories.

She was always eager to help and when she was asked if perhaps she could assemble some of those materials into one location at the library, she was most eager to help. She found a great number of resource materials and gathered them into a corner of the old Carnegie Library building basement. Soon patrons from all over the world were asking for help and the “Greene County Room” became a focal portion of the library. When the present library building was constructed, a large area was provided for the local history materials. Louise was thrilled with the space available. She retired, and the “room” continued to grow in space and history resources and today is considered one of the finest genealogical and historical resources in the country.

When she retired, Julie Overton took the responsibility for the Greene County Room. She had a degree as an elementary teacher but taught only a short while. She attended high school in Holland, where she lived with relatives. She said her career in genealogy began when a letter was received asking if someone could do a little research. She said she looked up the family, found a few relatives, took a picture of a gravestone, and from that time on, she became well-known for her knowledge of Greene County and its people. She had a peculiar habit of greeting everyone she met with the phrase “Good Morning.” It didn’t matter if it was 9 a.m. or 9 p.m., the greeting was the same. She said it made people think a little.

Another woman who was greatly interested in collecting the history of the county was Dorothy Limbach. She was better known as Dottie. She was a resident of Yellow Springs and worked as a research scientist for Kettering Research Laboratory. One of her favorite activities was to walk through Glen Helen where she often found unique rock specimens to add to her collection. Her passion was genealogy. She served as president of the local organization for some years and researched thousands of families for those who lived a distance away and could not come to the county to do their own research.

I can’t mention local history without thinking of Mary Lane. She graduated from Monmouth College in Illinois and then taught in Iowa before moving to Greene County where she taught in the Xenia school system. She was the executive director for Girl Scouts in Greene and Clinton counties for a number of years. She became something of an authority on covered bridges of Greene County, having done considerable research on the subject. She was always available to explore a cemetery and copy the information on old gravestones for posterity.

Greene County can boast of many women who have made a difference.

Remembering Marge Menapace

Marge Menapace was probably better known as the wife of Herman Menapace, administrator of Greene Memorial Hospital for a number of years. In her own right she was a graduate of Wisconsin State University and the Philadelphia School of Occupational Therapy at the University of Pennsylvania. She worked for several years at the Dayton V.A. Medical Center, helping veterans get back to their regular activities. She was active in the community and involved in several organizations including her multiple-year term as president of the Xenia Woman’s Club.

— Joan Baxter

Joan Baxter is a Greene County historian and resident.