Iza White Merchant

Honored by:Nancy Lysen
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Iza Marie (White) Merchant was a loving wife devoted mother, grandmother, educator, Iowa State booster and an active volunteer in civic and church affairs in Ames, Iowa from 1925 until her death in 1963. She lived her life to the fullest while always looking for ways to help and serve others.

Iza, the daughter of Mary Kathryn (Malloy) and Forest White, was born on May 28, 1901 in Durango, Colorado. She graduated from high school in Durango Colorado in 1920 attended the University of California, Berkeley, California from 1920-1922, graduated from Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado with a Bachelor of Science degree Home Economics in 1924 and obtained a Master of Science English from Iowa State in 1928. During college she was initiated into Kappa Delta Pi Kappa Delta honorary and Mortar Board. She was honored in the "Who's Who in College" publication.

After graduation from Colorado State, she became an instructor in Home Economics at Fort Lewis College, Durango, Colorado from 1924 through 1925. She also coached girl's athletics and was the first president of the Durango Business and Professional Women's Club in 1925.

On December 25, 1925 she married Ival Arthur Merchant in Durango, Colorado. Dr. Merchant (1898 - 1985) was the son of Mary Angeline (Wade) and George Merchant of Paonia, Colorado. He was a graduate of Colorado State University, where he graduated with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 1924, a Master of Science in 1928 and PhD in 1932 from Iowa State University, and a Master of Public Health from Yale University in 1934. He joined the Iowa State Department of Veterinary Hygiene faculty in 1925 and became associate professor in 1934, head of the department in 1943 and Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine from 1952 - 1963. Iza was her husband's loyal advocate and helpmate, which included helping to edit six editions of his textbook, Veterinary Bacteriology and Virology. Mrs. Merchant entertained all freshman veterinary students in the fall and all of the seniors and their wives in June while her husband was dean.

Iza was an English instructor at Iowa State from 1927 - 1929; Secretary of the Committee on English 1929 - 1930 and was named the first Director of Social Life at Iowa State University from 1930 - 1935. During this time, she was an active member of American Association of University Women (press chairperson 1931 1933), American Association of Deans of Women (national press committee 1932 -1933) and Administrative Women (Iowa Chapter vice president 1933 - 1934). She was honored in American Women The Official Who's Who Among The Women of the Nation 1935 - 1936 edition. As the Director of Social Life, Iza developed the Ward System, named and introduced Campus Varieties and variations of the exchange. She was also the organizing chairman for the Red Friars Dance Club.

The Merchant family included Nancy Marie (1935), Mary Alice (1937) and James Arthur (1940), all ISU graduates. Iza developed a warm and friendly home for her children and their many friends. The family backyard included a playhouse swing set, merry-go-round, sandbox and weeping willow tree for shade. This setting provided the background for neighborhood circuses. As the family grew up, horses, golf, swimming, music lessons, band, choir, youth organizations and various sports were included as family activities.

She was superintendent of the Sunday school at St. John's Episcopal Church for ten years and was also the advisor of the Canterbury Club for college students. She was active in the Crawford Elementary School PTA and was past president of the Welch PTA. When the need for another school was apparent in Ames, she was chosen chairman of the committee whose action resulted in what is now Edwards School. Iza Merchant was a past president of the PTA, City Council fifth district, vice president and was a member of the curriculum committee for the high school. For her daughters and their friends, she served as Camp Fire Guardian and was also a Den Mother when her son reached Cub Scouting age. Even through her greatest interest revolved around her family, she participated as an officer and as chairman of the major committees of Faculty Woman's Club and PEO Chapter AA President. Iza Merchant was past president of Mortar Board Alumnae Chapter and Pi Kappa Delta national forensic sorority and past president and Board member of Kappa Delta Alumnae Association. She was also a Panhellenic representative a member of Kappa Delta Gamma Phi Beta and Sigma Alpha Epsilon Mothers' Clubs; a charter member and past president of Veterinary Circle and a member of the American Veterinarian Medical Association Auxiliary.

In the March 20, 1957 issue of The Ames Daily Tribune, Iza Merchant was featured as Woman of the Week. In this article she told of helping five young adults attend Iowa State by providing room and board in the Merchant house. Because of various circumstances they could not attend otherwise. Two were nephews, one was a younger brother, one was a Danish girl and the fifth was a former 4-H girl. All five went through college in four years and lived as members of the family.