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McIntire, Lucy Barrow

(1886 - 1975)  /  Inducted  1997

Lucy Barrow McIntire
Activist, Author, Civic Volunteer

Savannah wears about her wrist
A bracelet of seas
With little jewelled islands set
At intervals in these.
One is alive and colourful
With laughter in her name,
And one, a wistful monotone
For tragedy to claim.
The third is carved in mystery
A jewel hot and strange
Whose many sided facets flash
An iridescent change.
– From the prize-winning poem,
“Three Island,” by Lucy Barrow McIntire

Lucy Barrow McIntire was endowed with a keen sense of responsibility toward humanity, and gifts of intelligence, vision, courage and humility, which she used to enrich the lives of her fellow Georgians in numerous ways. “Miss Lucy” as she was affectionately known, liked having her “finger in the pie.” Her youthful zeal to find pragmatic solutions to the myriad problems facing her city and state did not cease with age; in her seventies she spoke out in favor of civil rights for African Americans with the same enthusiasm with which she had supported women’s suffrage half a century earlier.

She was born in 1886 into a prominent Athens family. She married Savannah attorney Francis Percival McIntire, and they settled in his hometown where they raised a family of six children. She was a devoted wife and mother, but her concerns stretched beyond her own hearth to encompass the whole community.

Mrs. McIntire soon became a leader in the civic and social life of Savannah. She helped found local chapters of the League of Women Voters and the Junior League of Savannah, serving as first president of the latter. She was also president of the Savannah Suffrage Association and the Georgia Federation of Women’s Clubs. Her energetic efforts on behalf of Woodrow Wilson’s presidential campaign led to her appointment as the first Georgia Committeewoman on the Democratic National Committee.

Her artistic interests included amateur theater (one award-winning production was presented at the Belasco Theater in New York City in 1928) and poetry. She helped found the Georgia Poetry Society in the early twenties and won a number of its prizes during a forty-four year membership. She also helped found Savannah Country Day School and the Historic Savannah Foundation. But it was to improving social welfare that Lucy dedicated most of her time. In the spirit of the Progressive Era in which she grew up, she helped to establish a free lunch program in the Chatham County schools long before the federal government became involved.

She was a founder of the Savannah Nursery School, the Women’s Relief committee, the Juvenile Protection Association, the Savannah Health Center, the Chatham Nursing Home, and Savannah’s Christmas Stocking, in addition to serving as president or on the boards of the Bethesda-Savannah Children’s Center, Child Placement Services, Social Services Exchange, the Crittendon Home, United Community Services, and the Council of Social Agencies of Savannah-Chatham County. In addition to her volunteer efforts Mrs. McIntire held several professional positions.

Lucy was appointed a Field Supervisor for the Works Progress Administration under Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930’s. During World War II she founded the U.S.O.–Soldiers Social Service of Savannah and became Service Director of the American Red Cross. Not surprisingly, Savannah recognized her good works with numerous awards. She was named Woman of the Year in 1955 and was given both the Groves Award for outstanding contributions to Savannah’s philanthropic progress, and the Oglethorpe Trophy, Savannah’s highest civic award, in 1958. She was the first woman named to the Metropolitan Planning Commission in Savannah.

Lucy McIntire died in 1967 and is buried in Laurel Grove Cemetery. For six decades of unceasing, selfless service and effective leadership in making her city, county and state a better place to live, we take pride in naming Lucy Barrow McIntire a Georgia Woman of Achievement.

Additional Resources:

Junior League of Savannah, Georgia, Inc.
Savannah Speaking 42, no. 6, December 1967
(912) 790-1002

Savannah Morning News Various issues 1920-67