Blanche Eugenie Bruot Hower,
1862 - 1952
Blanche Hower, social feminist and vocational education advocate, helped to further the
equality of women in Ohio.
Born in Valentigney, France, Hower came to the United States with her family when she was
very young. She attended a one-room school in Akron and married Milton Otis Hower,
director and vice president of the American Cereal Company, in 1880.
During her life, Hower was exposed to successful self-made men, namely her father and her
husband. She understood the importance of education and it was her duty-first, pleasure-
second attitude that enabled her to assume the presidency of the Akron-Selle Company after
her husband's death in 1916.
An avid traveler, Hower brought treasures from all over the world home to Hower House, a
beautiful Victorian mansion now operated as a museum by The University of Akron.
Hower's community memberships included the Portage Country Club, Akron Art Institute,
where she served as a trustee, and the Summit County Federation of Women's Clubs. She
served as vice president of the Fifty Year Club of Akron and was honorary president of the
Italian Cultural Club.
In answer to the need for vocational training for young people, Hower donated space
downtown for the city's first trade school. The school was named in honor of her husband.
Although she preferred not to march in demonstrations, Hower did have a lifetime
membership in the Ohio Woman Suffrage Association. The first time women were allowed to
vote, Hower made sure that she and all the women who worked in her household went to the
polls.
One of the most remarkable traits about Hower was her determination to effect positive
social change. She began her political career at age 67, when she ran for Akron Board of
Education. Hower won by a landslide because she stood firmly on educational issues, and
because she was the only candidate to campaign over the radio.
Just when she was about to end her political career, Hower was nominated for Ohio State
Representative and won the seat in 1935. She was the only Republican woman elected that
term. Because she was so well received and respected by her fellow legislators, Hower was
named "Mother of the 91st General Assembly," and was presented with a flag for her service.
In tribute to her longtime local and state involvement, a quote from the Beacon Journal on
October 21, 1953, says she was "one of the finest citizens in Ohio and the nation…and
representative of the kind of women who should get into politics and politics would be better
for it."
Photo and campaign ad courtesy of The University of Akron Archives.