The Secret Life of Mary Rippon


Most people know the name “Mary Rippon” from the spectacular outdoor theater where the Colorado Shakespeare Festival performs the works of William Shakespeare every summer. But did you know that Mary Rippon was actually the first female professor at CU Boulder? She caught German there between 1878 and 1909, making her not only the first female professor at CU, but one of the first educators to work there as well there as well.

Mary Rippon in 1899

Although born in Detroit, Rippon was offered a teaching position in Boulder after she graduated from university herself. Eager to explore the West and its fascinating selection of plants (she was especially fond of wildflowers like the columbine), Rippon left Detroit and came to Boulder. She taught for 55 years in total, created the city’s first public library, and helped to maintain the Pioneer Cemetery on 9th Street, where she is now buried.

But there were two sides to Rippon’s life. In the 19th and early 20th century, women with careers not allowed to marry or have children themselves, and Rippon secretly defied both conventions. Early in her teaching career, she fell in love with one of her students, a young man named Will Housel. After …read more

Source:: Boulder: