Dorothy Roudebush, women’s rights activist, educator, dies

Monday, July 9, 2007 | 2:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:05 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

ST. LOUIS — Dorothy Coleman Roudebush, an educator and lifelong activist for women’s rights, died Wednesday of congestive heart failure and dementia, her family said Sunday.

She was 95 and a St. Louis native.

Roudebush worked to repeal Missouri’s law that prohibited married women from teaching in public schools, and campaigned for a women’s right to family planning services.

She served on the board of directors for Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis region for many years and was an emeritus member at the time of her death.

After earning a bachelor’s degree from Vassar College in 1932, and a journalism degree at MU, she became a features reporter at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She also taught English.

She later earned a master of arts degree in counseling at Washington University and became a student counselor at Lindenwood College.

In 1936, she married George Roudebush, an attorney. He died in 2000.

From 1963 to 1968, she was chairwoman of the Citizens Committee for Family Planning Through Public Health Services, which sought to make family planning services available through public health clinics. She also was a founder and president of the Committee for Legal Abortion in Missouri before the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide.

She was a longtime member of the League of Women Voters and served as St. Louis chapter president in the 1940s.

During the 1970s and ’80s, she ministered to burn patients at Barnes and Jewish hospitals.

Information from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,

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