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JEANNETTE KNAPP STODDARD (MRS. ALEXIS ERLING) 1895 - 1956
Jeannette Knapp Stoddard was born and raised on the Iowa State campus with a strong campus heritage. Her grandfather, Seaman A. Knapp, had been the second President and had lived in the Farm House. Her father, Herman Knapp, was Treasurer, serving in many capacities including Acting President. Both her father and her mother, Mary McDonald Knapp, graduated from Iowa State.
The Knapp house was across from the Knoll, where the women's dorms were built. Her aunt, Margaret McDonald Stanton (for whom the Carillon was built), her uncle, Edwin Stanton, and cousins lived on campus, too. Jeannette grew up as one of the "Campus Kids," the children of administrators and faculty living on the campus which was isolated from the city of Ames by a mile of open fields.
Jeannette graduated from Iowa State where she was a member of Pi Beta Phi, Sigma Alpha Iota musical honorary, and Mortar Board. She taught school in Tipton, Iowa, then returned to Iowa State to in the Chemistry Department.
In 1918 she married Alexis Erling Stoddard, a Civil Engineer graduate from Iowa State and a veteran of World War I. They lived briefly in Springfield, Illinois but returned to Ames. They lived with her parents at 427 Ash Avenue, taking care of the Knapps in their later years. I was born in 1934. In 1943 the Stoddards built the house at 312 Ash Avenue.
Jeannette died in 1956. She is buried in the College Cemetery.
Jeannette Knapp Stoddard was well loved and well respected in the community. Tall, dignified, stately, she was always thoughtful of others. She was always encouraging; to her nothing was impossible.
She enjoyed people greatly. She had a huge number of friends with many backgrounds. She was always interested in people. She knew how to draw out the best in people. She was always concerned about people and all her life she did things for others. She was always putting aside whatever she was doing to listen, to comfort, to help someone who came to her. She cooked endlessly for others. Flowers from the garden went as well. Kindness and thoughtfulness were her trademarks. Her home was constantly open for family and friends who were returning to the campus to visit and/or who lived in the community and needed a place to gather. She loved groups of people and went to endless efforts to make gatherings enjoyable.
She had a beautiful soprano voice and she had had some voice training. She gave freely of her music. She sang as soloist for the Methodist Church and later for the Presbyterian Church. She believed firmly that people should develop their interests and abilities and she encouraged this in others.
Jeannette had a strong belief in women. Carrie Chapman Catt was a personal friend of the family, a very real presence in the household. Mrs. Catt stayed in the Knapp home when visiting campus. Mrs. Catt's influence encouraged Jeannette to develop her independence as a woman. She graduated from college and went out to work. She learned to drive her own horse and then her car and drove a great deal. She was proud of her vote. She made Carrie Chapman Catt a very real presence for the younger women in the family so that we all felt we knew her personally. Jeannette believed in the potential that women have and she encouraged women to extend themselves.
She strongly believed in education, especially for women.
These ideas and interests and convictions of Jeannette Knapp Stoddard -- strong interest in people, strong belief in women, strong belief in education, strong belief that people should develop their interests and abilities, and that nothing was impossible -- were constant themes and influences she gave to lives around her. They are the guideposts she gave to my life.
-Mary Jean Stoddard Fowler
Submitted on 11/1996