Honoring Clovis’ Women in History

1982 Clovis Rodeo Grand Mashal, Lucretia “Lulu” McMurtry 1889-1995. (Courtesy of Clovis Museum)

Highlighting the contributions of women across the world is what the month of March is all about.

This year to celebrate Women’s History Month, the Clovis Roundup is highlighting the contributions of the ‘first’ women of Clovis.

Each of these women have played a role in shaping the Clovis community into the thriving town that it is today.

Julia E. Rowley

Rowley played a role in the creation and management of Clovis’ first sanitarium in 1920. It first opened on November 8, 1915 in the DeWitt building. The building was located between Fourth and Fifth streets on the east side of Pollasky. A sanitarium is an establishment created to help treat those with chronic illnesses and to help those recovering from an illness or recent operation. As a registered nurse, Rowley worked alongside other nurses to help those in need of treatment and eventually purchased a bigger property in Clovis to treat more patients.

Frances Lenora Qualls

Qualls first moved to Clovis with her three daughters in 1950. In 1963, she was sworn in as Clovis’ first female police officer, the same year the Clovis Police Department moved in with the Clovis Fire Department. She served as a police officer for 16 years where she also acted as secretary of the Clovis Planning Commission.

Lucretia McMurtry

Lucretia “Lulu” McMurtry was the Clovis Rodeo’s first female grand marshal honored in 1982. She graduated from Clovis High in 1909 and lived in Clovis since 1911 when marrying her husband Milton McMurtry. She played a role in organizing the first Spring Festival Day in 1914 and was inducted into the Clovis Hall of Fame in 1976.

Peg Bos

Bos was elected as the first female Mayor of Clovis in 1984. Being raised with grandparents who were active in the community and being someone who likes to make decisions are two of the reasons Bos decided to run for mayor. She was also the first woman elected to the Clovis City Council, the first woman to hold a seat on Clovis’ Planning Commission, and the first woman to receive the Citizen’s of the Year Award in the Clovis Hall of Fame. “It was not just one person, it was a collective,” she said when describing who inspires her. Bos was also the President of the Clovis Museum for 20 years before her retirement this year.

Elizabeth Egan

Egan has worked for the Fresno County District Attorney’s Office since 1995 where she worked in various departments which included the Misdemeanor Team, the Juvenile Unit, Felony trials, the Domestic Violence Unit and the Narcotics Unit. She was elected as the District Attorney of Fresno County in 2002 as the first woman to ever hold this position. After serving in this position for a total of 12 years, she now serves as a judge of the Superior Court of Fresno County since March of 2020.

Margaret Mims

Mims has been a peace officer since 1980 and has served as the Fresno County Sheriff since November of 2006. Mims is the first female deputy sheriff to reach the rank of Lieutenant, Captain, Asst. Sheriff and the first female deputy Sergeant to oversee field patrol units in Fresno County since its establishment in 1856. Margaret continues to serve as the Fresno County Sheriff and is a member of multiple community boards throughout the county such as the Fresno Cultural Arts Rotary Club and the Board of Directors of the Marjaree Mason Center.

Amanda Bales

At just 14-years old, Bales is the first female to be awarded the status of Eagle Scout from the Boy Scouts of America in Clovis. After two years of working hard to earn her status as Eagle Scout, Bales finally obtained her rank and was honored by the City of Clovis back in January of this year. Bales is a member of Troop 60 in Clovis and is the first girl in the Central Valley to be awarded Eagle Scout status.

Halle Sembritzki was born in the small Swedish village of Kingsburg, California and graduated from Kingsburg High School in 2017. She now attends Fresno State and will graduate with her Bachelor’s in Multimedia Journalism in spring 2021. She aspires to use her voice as an outlet for those who can’t use their own and hopes to educate the public on important news topics happening within her community and the country.