Florence Kimball Stoufer

Honored by:Lucy Graeme
Brick location:PAVER:33  map

Florence Kimball Stoufer, who was 91, when she died in 1977, was a woman who showed rare business initiative in an era when few women ventured their talents outside the home. The intelligence, ambition, and energy with which she was endowed enabled her to live a rewarding and accomplished life wherein she successfully combined the roles of engineer, wife-mother and businesswoman.

She was born in 1885 in Anamosa, IA., the daughter of Jessie and Charles E. Kimball. The family foundry and machine shop was moved to Council Bluffs in 1892 where the operation was changed to manufacturing freight and passenger elevators. Before moving, Mr. Kimball taught practical shop mechanics briefly at Iowa State College in Ames. Florence entered engineering school at Iowa State at the end of her junior year in high school. Her father suggested she study mechanical engineering and Florence laughed at his reason "because she would probably never get married" but she gamely entered those all male classes and completed the work for her degree in 1908 with an excellent grade average. She was the first woman to receive the degree.

At Iowa State she found a husband - Donald B. Stoufer, who was captain of the football team and also an engineering student. They were married in 1911. Her husband joined the Kimball Elevator Co. and Florence applied her talents to maintenance and management of their real estate holdings. In 1940, she took over management of the historic old Ogden (House) hotel, a legacy from her father. Don Stoufer died in 1955, and she continued to administer their properties until her death.

All three of their children call Iowa State University their alma mater. Richard and William in the college of engineering and Lucy Beall, now Mrs. Richard B. Graeme, in home economics. Three of the seven grandchildren attended Iowa State. Her loyalties always adhered to her school; she had served as first president of Sigma Sigma Chapter of Kappa Delta sorority and in 1976 was awarded the Alumni Key by the Omaha Council Bluffs chapter of the ISU Alumni Association.

Faithful first of all to home and family, still she gave generously of time to many worthy organizations, chief of them her church. Friends and family alike admired her joyous affirmative attitude toward life. "How lucky I've been!" was her frequent remark and to the end she gave thanks for her good life.

the achievements of the first woman to receive a degree in Mechanical Engineering at Iowa State (College) University. In the expectation that her significant accomplishment will hold meaning to those women who follow in her footsteps, this certificate of recognition is awarded to Florence Kimball Stoufer.

Submitted on 12/9/94
Narrative entered 1/31/2003

Paver Inscription:

"Florence Kimball Stoufer
First woman to graduate from Iowa State College
with the degree of bachelor of mechanical engineering
conferred on her the fourth of June, 1908, also the first
president of Sigma Sigma chapter, Kappa Delta Sorority"