Stories from the Plaza of Heroines

CATEGORIES: May 2019, Voices
From left: Nellie Bass, Sylvia Flogstad, and Elnora Greene Thuirer.

This issue of Voices features three women honored in the Plaza of Heroines, all born before 1900, who were honored by their children or grandchildren for their dedication to their families and communities.

If you are interested in purchasing a brick or a paver to honor a heroine in your life, fill out the online order form or contact the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics by calling 515-294-3181.

To add or edit a narrative or photograph for the profile of a woman you have previously honored on the plaza, email the Catt Center or mail your submission(s) to 309 Carrie Chapman Catt Hall, 2224 Osborn Dr., Iowa State University, Ames, IA, 50011-4009.

Nellie Bass

Nellie Bass

Nellie M. Bass

Nellie May Smith was born Jan. 23, 1891, on a farm near David City, Nebraska. Her family moved to a farm near Emerson, Iowa, in 1898, and into Emerson four years later where she graduated from high school in 1907. On June 19, 1912, she married Elmer A. Bass after his graduation from Iowa State College, and they had two children.

Her daughter, Edith Naylor, describes Bass as versatile; adaptable; and dedicated to her family, church, community and friends. She was an accomplished seamstress and cook, and she loved all kinds of flowers and house plants.

Bass and her friends organized The Christian Home Aid Society to produce clothing for children living in Council Bluffs’ Christian Homes. Bass also organized and served in the Garfield Go-Getters 4-H club. She served on the Montgomery County 4-H Committee, and participated in the Farm Bureau Women’s Home Project activities.

Bass worked in the Ladies Aid Society in the Emerson Methodist Church, as well as teaching Sunday school and serving as Sunday school superintendent. After moving to Red Oak, she became one of the “Coffee Ladies” for Women’s Society meetings and for church-wide dinners.

When Bass’ husband served as a representative in the Iowa General Assembly, she accompanied him to Des Moines for the four-month session, eventually becoming his clerk.
Bass passed away in 1972. She was honored on the plaza by her granddaughter, Jane Haahr.

Sylvia Flogstad

Sylvia Flogstad
Sylvia Flogstad

Sylvia Flogstad was born on a farm in Story County, Iowa, on Dec. 26, 1896. She graduated from Roland High School in 1916 and received a Bachelor of Science degree in home economics from Iowa State College in 1920. She taught at Roland High School for a year until her marriage to Ernest Jesse Rasmusson, a 1919 Iowa State College graduate in electrical engineering. They had three daughters and eleven grandchildren.

Her daughter, Phyllis, says Flogstad shone as a mother, caring for her daughters and instructing them in the fine arts of homemaking at an early age, yet allowing to be their own free, independent selves.

Flogstad was active in the community. She was president of the Wauwatosa (Wisconsin) High School PTA, a substitute teacher at the Wauwatosa Public High School and treasurer of the Wauwatosa Women’ Club. She was a founding member of PEO Chapter AH, was active in Eastern Star and Zeta Tau Alpha, and served as president of the Milwaukee Pan Hellenic Society.

During World War II, Flogstad trained as an air raid block warden and volunteered with the American Red Cross.

Flogstad passed away in 1972. She was honored on the plaza by her daughter, Phyllis Huffman.

Elnora Greene Thuirer

Elnora Greene Thuirer

Elnora Greene Thuirer

Elnora Greene was born in 1875 on a homestead that became Greenville, Iowa. Her family later moved to Spencer, Iowa, where she attended high school. After graduation, she took a course in shorthand and typing in Indianapolis, Indiana, then returned to Spencer where she worked in a bank for five years. In 1901, she married Clarence Thuirer. Two years later, they moved to the family farm outside of Spencer, where they raised five children.

Thuirer cooked for the family and hired hands, cared for the children, planted and harvested a garden, preserved the produce, raised chickens, and sold and bartered the eggs. She handled all the farm bookkeeping and supervised improvements to the house over the years.

Raised as a Quaker, Thurier joined the Methodist church at her marriage. She was very active in the Methodist women’s group and taught a high school girls’ Sunday school class. Thuirer was a 4-H leader through Clay County Extension services for many years and also served on the Clay County Fair board.

Thuirer wrote plays that were performed locally, as well as poems for friends and for the birth of each grandchild. She recorded the family history in an unpublished book, “Quaker Pioneers.”

Thuirer passed away in 1966. She was honored on the plaza by her children: Leland Thuirer, Merrill Thuirer, Florence Thuirer Harmon, Marjorie Thuirer Bower and Dale Thuirer.