Mildred Matthews Chambless Family

The family of Mildred Matthews Chambless established this scholarship for older women returning to college. Recipients must be 35 years old or older of any major.

Born in 1902 in Chickasha, Indian Territory, Mildred Chambless remained in Chickasha all of her life. She attended Chickasha High School, where she played basketball and was nicknamed “Squabby” because of her 4’11” height.

She graduated from OCW in 1924. She was preparing to teach math when she married James G. Chambless that same year. In 1930 they started their own business, a sheet metal shop, for which Mildred served as office manager and handled all of the billing.

They had the same goals for all of their five children – that they graduate from college and attend or graduate from OCW. Those goals were realized when Jean graduated with a degree in chemistry, Audrey with a degree in physical education, Geneva with a degree and teaching certificate in physical education and Gai with a degree and teaching certificate in drama. Even their son, Stephen, took a summer course at OCW.

The belief in education that was instilled in them by their parents continued to influence all five children. Jean went on to become a laboratory technician and later earned a master’s degree in hospital administration. Audrey received a second degree in physical therapy and at age 60 earned a master’s degree in studies on aging. Geneva became a teacher in the Tulsa school system. Gai also earned a master’s degree in drama. Stephen became a medical doctor with a specialty in ophthalmology.

Throughout her life, Mildred was active in the Chickasha community. She served as a volunteer with the Girl Scouts and the Rainbow Girls. She also was an active member of many clubs, including the Garden Club, Altrusa, and the DAR.

In Eastern Star, she served in all the stations, as worthy matron, and later as pianist. For ten years, she served as first aid counselor for the Girl Scout camp at Lake Murray, finally giving up that role in 1978. A natural leader, she was elected to the boards of directors of many of these clubs and often served as president.

Her family remembers her as “an outstanding grandmother to her ten grandchildren.” They note that she continued to take courses at OCW “just to keep learning” and once took a course at the college in “new math” to help her grandchildren learn the subject.

Describing her as “a vocal and tireless supporter of the college through all its name changes,” her family said she often stated that “she had a wonderful life with many blessings, some sorrows, and lots of good friends.”

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