Louise Moede Lex

Honored by:Katherine Fromm
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Louise Moede Lex born in Lake City, Minnesota on December 3, 1929 spent her early years in small Midwestern towns. Her father a Congregational minister found pastorates close to railroad lines into Chicago when he worked on a Ph.D. at the University of Chicago. Her mother raised Louise and her brother managed church affairs and their tiny budget for family survival.

Family roles changed when Louise was in 9th grade. Her father developed Parkinson's disease. So her mother worked as a registered nurse in hospital and public health settings. Louise knew at an early age the importance of education and careers for women. By the time Louise graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Phi Beta Kappa she had worked in nearly every unskilled job available for women.

She began high school teaching in northern Wisconsin and later taught in Middleton Madison and Prince George's County, Maryland. She and her husband, Louie, adopted two children; Andrea and Louis. Louise was introduced to the women's movement through the League of Women Voters. When she came to Iowa in 1972 she saw the void in the course offerings on issues related to women. She started a Women in Politics course which became a permanent offering in Political Science.

She became involved in community and university activities to improve the status of women. She sought unsuccessfully to have a building named after Carrie Chapman Catt chaired the YWCA and raised women's issues on and off campus when these issues were considered radical. Working for the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women Louise developed programs to help low income women enter well-paying nontraditional jobs in the skilled crafts and trades and projects to assist women in prison.

She wrote grants during the 1980s farm crisis to help farm women move into computer-related fields. She devoted many years as board chair to OSACS an inner city minority women's organi- zation. By the time she left as chair OSACS had developed into a recognized human service organization in Des Moines. Louise readily acknowledges help from other women--her aunts; Louise Gilpin and Minnie Becker and her mother Ann Moede.

Her mother inspired her work with the Department of Public Health. Louise has relied on a network of close friends like Kathy Fromm. It has been the women in Louise's life who have motivated her to risk being a change maker.