Gender: Female - Starting with S

Sammon, Winona

aka: Peggy Shannon
Winona Sammon was a stage and cinema actress in the 1920s through early 1940, using the stage name Peggy Shannon. There were high hopes for her career early on, but as it progressed, her roles became smaller and less prestigious. Winona Sammon was born on January 10, 1907, to Edward and Nannie Sammon in the upstairs living quarters over her father’s store on Barraque Street in downtown Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). She had a younger sister. In late 1923, she traveled to New York City with her mother to visit an aunt, who lived in the same building as Florenz Ziegfeld’s secretary, “Goldie” Glough. Sammon was invited for some publicity pictures with Ziegfeld, who, with famed choreographer Ned Wrayburn, chose …

Samuel, Irene Gaston

Irene Gaston Samuel is best known for her work with the Women’s Emergency Committee to Open Our Schools (WEC) that arose in the fall of 1958 during the Little Rock desegregation crisis. Samuel served as the organization’s executive secretary until it disbanded in 1963. Later in her life, she worked as an administrative assistant for Governor (and later U.S. Senator) Dale Bumpers until she retired in 1981. Irene Gaston was born on March 21, 1915, in Van Buren (Crawford County) to Martin Luther and Grace Whitley Gaston. She grew up in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and graduated in 1931 from Little Rock Senior High School (now Central High School). After working for the state Department of Labor and in the …

Sanders, Amy

Amy Sanders was a longtime city clerk for the City of Sherwood (Pulaski County), which named its new Central Arkansas Library System (CALS) branch library in her honor in 1989. A new library building that opened in Sherwood in 2018 retained the name. Amy Sanders was born on August 4, 1924, in Prescott (Nevada County), the child of William Hayes Barnes and Allie Mae Dye Barnes. She married Reo Dale Sanders in Texarkana (Miller County) in 1944, and the couple had two children. They were married for more than sixty-three years, until his death on June 7, 2007. Sanders went to work for the City of Sherwood in the early 1970s and, in April 1973, was appointed to replace a …

Sanders, Sarah Huckabee

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a political operative and commentator, is the daughter of former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee and served as press secretary for President Donald Trump. In January 2021, she announced her candidacy for governor of Arkansas. With the stated support of Trump, Sanders immediately assumed the role of front-runner in the race. If successful, she would be the first woman to be Arkansas’s chief executive. Sarah Elizabeth Huckabee was born on August 13, 1982, in Hope (Hempstead County) to Mike Huckabee and Janet McCain Huckabee; she has two older brothers. Huckabee graduated from Central High School in Little Rock in 2000 before attending Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) in Arkadelphia (Clark County). At OBU, Huckabee was elected student body president …

Santuario Arco Iris

aka: Arco Iris Earth Care Project (AIECP)
Santuario Arco Iris, an intentional land community located in Ponca (Newton County) near the Buffalo National River in northwestern Arkansas, was founded by Maria Christina DeColores Moroles (also known by her ceremonial names Sun Hawk and Aguila) originally as a sanctuary, or “sacred land space,” for all women and children, particularly women and children of color. Moroles, who identifies as a so-called two-spirit woman of Mexican and Indigenous American descent, has lived on the wilderness preserve since 1976, when she moved there with her five-year-old daughter, Jennifer. Her partner from 1982 to 2011, Miguela Borges, was also instrumental in the development of Santuario Arco Iris and its associated nonprofit organization, the Arco Iris Earth Care Project (AIECP). (Moroles prefers the …

Sawyer, Sophia

Sophia Sawyer, an educator whose calling was to teach the Cherokee, founded the Fayetteville Female Seminary in 1839. This tireless educator was associated with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions of the Congregational Church. Sophia Sawyer was born May 4 or 5, 1792, in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Little is known of her parents, save for the fact that they were extremely poor farmers who eventually bought a farm in New Hampshire. She never married. Dr. Seth Payson, a Congregational clergyman from Rindge, New Hampshire, took Sawyer into his home as a housemaid after her parents died and sent her to school. Sawyer gained teaching experience in the Payson household, teaching basic education during the summer at Rindge but needed …

Schexnayder, Charlotte Tillar

Journalist and state politician Charlotte Tillar Schexnayder co-owned the Dumas Clarion newspaper in Dumas (Desha County) with her husband for more than four decades and served in the Arkansas House of Representatives for fourteen years. She was the first woman appointed to the Arkansas Board of Pardons and Parole, and she was the first female president of the Dumas Chamber of Commerce. She was also president of several associations for professional journalists, including the Arkansas Press Women, the Arkansas Press Association, the National Federation of Press Women, and the National Newspaper Association. Charlotte Tillar was born on December 25, 1923, in Tillar (Drew and Desha counties) to Jewell Stephen Tillar and Bertha Terry Tillar. The family moved to McGehee (Desha County) in …

Schoppach, Annie

aka: Annie Adelia Anette Ryerse
Annie Schoppach was the first female graduate of the Medical Department of the University of Arkansas (now the College of Medicine of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences). She practiced medicine in Little Rock (Pulaski County), entering a profession that was almost entirely male dominated. Annie Adelia Anette Ryerse was born in Port Ryerse, Ontario, Canada, on May 3, 1859, the daughter of James and Sarah Ryerse. The Ryerse family was the most prominent family in the area, her great-grandfather having been the lieutenant governor of the Western District of Upper Canada. She experienced a great deal of loss early in her life. Her mother died when she was a small child. Later, her twin sister died. Her paternal …

Scott, Cynthia

Cynthia Scott is a Grammy-nominated jazz vocalist known for her work as one of Ray Charles’s “Raelettes” and for her subsequent solo career. She was named Jazz Ambassador for the U.S. Department of State in 2004 and was Wynton Marsalis’s choice for the first person to give a concert in the Lincoln Center’s Rose Room. She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2016. Cynthia Scott was born on July 20, 1951 (some sources say 1952), to the Reverend Sam Scott and Artelia Scott in El Dorado (Union County), the tenth of twelve children—six boys and six girls. She began singing at age four in her father’s church but exposed her ear to secular music by sneaking …

Scott, Dortha Delena Shaw

Dortha Delena Shaw Scott of Mount Ida (Montgomery County) created the design for the Arkansas quarter. Her design was chosen from among more than 9,300 entries in a statewide contest by a panel of ten judges and Governor Mike Huckabee. The final design was unveiled to the public on October 7, 2002, at the Old State House in Little Rock (Pulaski County). The quarter officially entered circulation October 28, 2003, at Murfreesboro (Pike County). Dortha Shaw was born on January 11, 1936, near Mount Ida. Her parents were Henry and Carrie (Manley) Shaw. Henry Shaw, who died on September 7, 1936, was a carpenter most of his life, and Carrie Shaw was a homemaker. Dortha had five siblings: Gene, Helen, …

Scott, Melissa Elaine

A scholar who followed her father, a prominent lawyer, from Little Rock Central High School to the academic citadels of the east, Melissa Scott turned to writing fiction in the 1980s and became one of the most honored and prolific authors of English-language science fiction. Over nearly forty years, she has published eighteen original novels, several short stories, and numerous tie-in novels for the science-fiction network-television series Star Trek and Stargate: Atlantis. Her fiction has been noted for the frequency of lesbian and gay characters, who were often the protagonists. In the 1980s, even among book lovers, there was little knowledge or acceptance of the biological and social diversity of human life in the area of gender and sexuality. The …

Shackelford, Lottie Lee Holt

Lottie Lee Holt Shackelford is a prominent African-American political leader who became the first female mayor of Little Rock (Pulaski County) and commanded leadership roles in the national Democratic Party for three decades. She was an Arkansas delegate to every Democratic National Convention from 1980 through 2012, often as a so-called superdelegate, and was chosen to be an automatic superdelegate for the 2016 convention. In addition, she was the longest-serving national vice chair in the Democratic Party’s history. She is a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. Lottie Lee Holt was born on April 30, 1941, in Little Rock, one of four children—with two sisters and a brother—of Curtis Holt Sr. and Bernice Linzy Holt. Her father was …

Shaver, Dorothy

Dorothy Shaver was the first woman in the United States to head a multi-million dollar firm. She became president of the prestigious New York City Fifth Avenue firm of Lord & Taylor in 1945 and is credited with much of the company’s success. A trailblazer and a trend setter in her time, her legacy continues today. Dorothy Shaver was born on July 29, 1893, in Center Point (Howard County) to Sallie Borden and James Shaver. Her maternal grandfather was Benjamin Borden, editor of the Arkansas Gazette, and her paternal grandfather was Robert Glenn Shaver, a prominent Confederate officer who served with distinction during the Civil War. When Shaver was five years old, her family moved to Mena (Polk County), a …

Sheid, Vada Webb

Vada Webb Sheid was the first woman to serve in both the Arkansas Senate and the Arkansas House of Representatives in a political career that stretched across five decades. Vada Webb was born on August 19, 1916, in Izard County, the only child of J. W. “Bill” Webb and Gertrude Reynolds Webb. Her father was a cattle buyer. She grew up in Calico Rock (Izard County) and graduated from high school there in 1934. She later attended Draughon School of Business in Little Rock (Pulaski County). In 1935, Webb went to work as Izard County welfare director and then became an interviewer for the state welfare department. She married Carl Sheid of Norfork (Baxter County) on December 31, 1940. They …

Shepperson, Carrie Lena Fambro Still

Carrie Lena Fambro Still Shepperson was an African-American teacher and education advocate in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and the mother of composer and musician William Grant Still Jr. Carrie Fambro was born in 1872, near Milledgeville Georgia to Anne Fambro, a freedwoman. Little is known about her family. Her exact birth date, father’s name, and number of siblings are unknown. Encouraged by her mother to pursue her education, she graduated from Atlanta University in 1886. In 1893, while teaching at Alabama State Agricultural and Mechanical College, she met William Grant Still, a colleague who taught bookkeeping, instrumental music, and vocal music. Still was an 1892 graduate of Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College at Lorman, Mississippi. The couple married and settled …

Shingu, Nami

Nami Shingu, an American citizen born of Japanese parents, arrived in Arkansas as an internee in a World War II relocation camp and left a decade later after her family’s successful farming endeavors allowed them to return to California. Nami Yoshida was born in San Francisco, California, on January 31, 1918. There is little record of her parents, Japanese natives who had come to the United States seeking new opportunities. The family returned to Japan when Nami was ten years old, but as she grew up, she came to recognize the oppressive nature of the militaristic Japanese government, seeing friends who expressed opposition to its policies suddenly disappear. In the mid-1930s, she met a man living in her village named …

Shirek, Maudelle

Arkansas native Maudelle Shirek was a longtime California-based civic activist who entered the political arena late in life. She won her first race for a seat on the Berkley, California, city council at the age of seventy-one, and when she retired at ninety-two, she was the oldest publicly elected official in the United States. Maudelle Miller was born on June 18, 1911, in Jefferson County, the oldest of ten children of Eddie and Hattie Miller. She grew up on a farm, and her father was a school teacher. The granddaughter of slaves, she once witnessed the lynching of a relative. One longtime friend observed that Maudelle spent the first third of her life cooking, helping with the crops, and getting …

Shoffner, Martha

Martha Shoffner was the Arkansas state treasurer from 2007 until she was forced to resign from office after an arrest on federal charges of extortion and bribery in May 2013. After being found guilty on multiple counts in March 2014, she began serving a thirty-month prison sentence in November 2015. Martha Shoffner was born on July 10, 1944, in Jackson County. One of two daughters of James Edwin Shoffner and Helen Deaton Shoffner, she was raised in Jackson County. After she graduated from Newport High School, she attended Memphis State University and Arkansas State University; she did not earn a degree. Shoffner began work in the private sector, first joining a Little Rock (Pulaski County) advertising firm. In addition, she …

Silitch, Mary Frances

Mary Frances Files Silitch is the first woman to be editor-in-chief of a national aviation magazine. A licensed pilot, she has flown 250 kinds of aircraft and logged 5,000 hours of flight. Mary Frances Files was born on November 9, 1935, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to William Thomas Files and Johnnie Caldwell Files of Parkdale (Ashley County); she has two sisters. Her first flight was in an open-cockpit crop-duster airplane over the family farm at the age of four. She attended schools in Parkdale and Wilmot (Ashley County) but graduated from All Saints Episcopal School in Vicksburg, Mississippi. She attended Southwestern at Memphis (now Rhodes College), where she began her journalism career as the managing editor of the Sou’wester, …

Simon, Charlie May

Charlie May Simon is among the state’s most prolific major authors. Known primarily for her children’s literature, with just under thirty books and with numerous short stories to her credit, Simon had a long career writing for adults as well. Additionally, she is known as the wife of Pulitzer Prize–winning poet John Gould Fletcher. Her work in the field of children’s literature has been honored in Arkansas since 1971 by the annual presentation of the Charlie May Simon Book Award. Simon was born Charlie May Hogue on August 17, 1897, not far from Monticello (Drew County), to Charles Wayman Hogue and Mary Gill Hogue. She was named after both her parents, according to Southern tradition. Her father, a tenant farmer …