Throwback Thursday – Thelma Stovall

One of Kentucky’s most famous female legislators would be celebrating her 100th birthday this month. A Hart County native, she was a champion for equality and women’s rights during her 20 years in public office. This week we’re taking a look at the life of Thelma Stovall.

Born in Munfordville in April of 1919, Thelma Stovall learned to adapt to change at a young age. Her parents divorced when she was eight-years-old. She moved to Louisville with her mother and sister. Before she was 16, she was already working at Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation, and she was Secretary of the Tobacco Workers International Union for 11 years.

Thelma was educated, graduating from Louisville Girls School and moving on to law school at LaSalle Extension University, along with taking summer courses at the University of Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky University. She had a great drive toward equal rights and women’s rights, eagerly serving in public offices.

First elected in 1949, Stovall was Louisville’s first female state representative. She moved to the state cabinet in 1956, first as Secretary of State and then Secretary of the Treasury. Stovall’s assertive attitude won her the Lieutenant Governor office in 1975, where she wasn’t afraid to take charge when Governor Julian Carroll was out of state.

She called the Kentucky General Assembly to special session to reduce taxes. She’s well known for her strong vetoes at the last minute, especially her veto of the legislature’s repeal of its ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.

There’s a public park along the Green River in Munfordville dedicated to Thelma Stovall. Celebrate one of Kentucky’s most powerful historic women.