WCTU Remembers, Frances E. Willard's Heavenly Birthday
Updated: Feb 19
Frances Willard was so beloved and respected that when she died, Chauncy M. Depew, then president of the New York Central Railroad, provided a special funeral car to take her body to Chicago. Some 20,000 people, many of whom waited hours in blustering cold winter weather, filed past her bier.
Countless messages expressing profound sorrow were received from around the world. Many tributes can be found in The Beautiful Life of Frances E. Willard by Anna A. Gordon.
Booker T. Washington wrote, “In her unselfish devotion to a great cause, Miss Frances E. Willard lost sight of sex, races and color, and gave her life freely to the task of making our world better. The negro race will always keep her memory green in their hearts, and will more and more strive, as the years pass by, to life by the principles that she taught.”
Helen Douglass (wife of Frederick Douglass) wrote, “The blow has fallen. From the world has been taken another lover of humanity. There are no words to express the loss to the world and to the world’s workers, and none to portray the glory into which the beautiful soul has entered.”
J. R. Sovereign, Head of the Knights of Labor, “Words fail to adequately express my appreciation of the lifework of Miss Willard. Her death is mourned in a million homes; her name will ever remain among the brightest stars in the galaxy of the world’s illustrious workers in the cause of humanity. May all mankind emulate her noble example.”