Gertrude Weil, 1879 - 1971
In 1900, Gertrude Weil's mother wrote, "My greatest desire for my children is to feel...that the world will be better for their having lived, not great things but good is what I wish them to do." Gertrude certainly fulfilled her mother's hopes. Drawing upon the family tradition of civic involvement, she became "a woman of deep convictions and fearless in their defense, and one whose honesty and integrity of purpose is never questioned." Her longstanding career as a dedicated "citizen-activist" created significant progressive change.
Weil exerted a powerful influence on all those around her. Her friends and family "just adored her," remembering her for her generosity and compassion and her electric conversation. Community members vied for invitations to her lunch table, at which the latest books and political and social issues were discussed; food was slow in getting around the table because everyone was so engrossed in what Weil had to say. Guests always left wanting to read what she suggested and get involved in the issues discussed. Her interest in each person with whom she spoke was deep and sincere and won her many intensely loyal admirers. Although she never held elective office, Weil had a stronger impact on her community than the vast majority of political officials.
On May 6, 1971, the North Carolina General Assembly ratified the 19th Amendment, for which Weil had worked so hard in 1920. Exactly two weeks later, Weil died in the same house in which she had been born 91 years earlier. Her legacy lives on in all those, in North Carolina and beyond, who continue to take inspiration from her extraordinary commitment to making her world a better, more just, and more inclusive place.
- Quotation beginning "My greatest desire" from letter from Mina Weil to Gertrude Weil, September 21, 1900, Gertrude Weil Papers at the North Carolina Office of Archives and History, cited in Anne Firor Scott, "Gertrude Weil and her Times," unpublished paper delivered at "Women Working For Social Change: The Legacy of Gertrude Weil," Symposium presented by the Women's Studies Program, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, March 17, 1984, 4.
- Quotation beginning "a woman of deep convictions" from Notes by Edward K. Graham, Chancellor of the University of North Carolina, in the North Carolina Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
- Additional information from conversation with Emily and David Weil, Goldsboro, NC, April 25, 2001.