Vera "Bobbie" Schultz (1902-1995)

Photograph courtesy of Marin Independent Journal

"I believe that women should go into politics. They represent more than half the population. They should not leave the fate of the nation in the hands of a minority, a very small minority at that when you consider that most men in public life are white."

Capsule Biography

  • Vera Schultz's grandmother, rebelling against a polygamous Mormon marriage, packed up her fifteen children and homesteaded at Dutch Flats, Nevada. She shortened the family name from Klingensmith to Smith.
  • A participant in the Mountain Meadows Massacre of 1857, Vera's grandfather was found "not guilty" for the murder of 126 people. He claimed his orders came from Brigham Young. When he refused to recant he was excommunicated and stripped of his land. After the 1881 trial, he fled to Mexico where he was hunted down and assassinated.
  • 1902. Vera Lucille Smith, the youngest of eight children, was born near Caliente, Nevada to Elizabeth Ann Mathews Smith and John Henry Smith. Her father died when she was five and her mother ran a boarding house in the mining town of Tonopah, Nevada.
  • At age ten, Vera was working to pay for her own piano lessons. By the sixth grade she had read every book in the town library.
  • 1924. Graduated from the University of Nevada at Reno where she was coeditor of the school paper.
  • After earning her teaching credentials, she was awarded a teaching fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley. Vera taught English while pursuing graduate studies in English and eventually became a reporter for the Oakland Post-Enquirer, a Hearst newspaper.
  • 1926. Vera married Ray C. Schultz of Nebraska. Since Hearst did not employ married women, she married Ray on the condition she continue to work for the newspaper as "Miss Smith".
  • 1928 -1929. Vera moved to Mill Valley and became Assistant to Superintendent of Schools.
  • 1942. At age 40, Vera gave birth to her first and only child, a daughter named Joyce.
  • 1946. Shultz became the first woman elected to the Mill Valley City Council, receiving 86% of the vote.
  • 1948. President Truman requested Schultz's presence at a major Bay Area speech. Eventually, she came to know all the Democratic First Ladies from Eleanor Roosevelt to Rosalynn Carter.
  • 1952. Schultz was the first woman elected to the Marin County Board of Supervisors. Her election adversary later complained that she was "snooping around [in county government] sticking her nose into things she didn't need to."
  • The first woman supervisor in Northern California, Schultz was greeted with a "No Women Allowed" sign at her first North Coast Counties Association of Supervisors meeting. When she asked about the sign, it was suggested to her that she join the wives fashion luncheon. Schultz pulled down the sign, tore it in half, and took her rightful seat at the meeting.
  • 1952. Schultz attended the first National Council on Aging. She would attend again in 1961, 1971, and 1981, bringing her to the White House of four different presidents.
  • 1957. Schultz proposed that Frank Lloyd Wright design the new Marin County Civic Center. Opponents publicly accused Wright of being a Communist, causing him to angrily storm out of a presentation. Vera soothed him and persisted. Even after the contract was signed, the controversy continued, with worries over building costs and maintenance. Happily, bids came in below Wright's estimate. Wright died before construction began.
  • 1960. Schultz lost reelection to the Marin County Board of Supervisors. She had worked for property reappraisals, in accordance with State law. Owners of long-held property had been paying taxes on a fraction of the value. They fumed over their new tax bills. That same year, she was named to the Marin County Redevelopment Board, where she promoted new low cost housing and racial integration.
  • The newly elected Board of Supervisors voted to stop work on the new civic center building and proposed turning it into a hospital. The Marin Independent Journal printed up ballots on the issue. The results were overwhelmingly against the stop work order. Thank-you's and testimonials to Vera Schultz blossomed.
  • 1964. Schultz campaigned for the State Senate but was not elected.
  • 1980's. Schultz lost her sight. To a voracious reader, this was devastating.
  • May 3,1995. Vera Schultz died in her sleep.
  • A few more of her many achievements: pushed for a modern hospital in Marin, which resulted in the opening of Marin General Hospital; established chapters of American Association of University Women and the League of Women Voters; founded the Marin Music Chest.; created the Parks and Recreation Department in Mill Valley and in the county; set up neighborhood playgrounds; established the Public Works Department; created a Personnel Commission, office of county Council, and the county Public Health Department; worked to open Marin's first school for handicapped children; helped establish the Meals on Wheels program in Marin County; and served on the Grand Jury.

Sources:

  • Marin People. Vol.3 , Marin County Historical Society, 1980 [Call number at SSU: Regional Room F868 .M3 M25 v.3 1980]
  • Radford, Evelyn M. Vera, "First Lady of Marin" A biography of Vera Lucille Smith Schultz . Sonoma: Hilltop Publishing, 1998 [Call number at SSU: Regional Room F868 .M3 R33 1998]