Today, Governor Rick Scott announced the selection of Clara C. Frye, Lillie Pierce Voss, and Aleene Kidd Mackenzie to the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame. Governor Scott chose the three women from a list of 10 distinguished nominees selected by the Florida Commission on the Status of Women for making significant contributions to the improvement of life for women and all citizens of Florida.
Governor Scott said, “Throughout my life, I have been blessed to be surrounded by strong, amazing women. My mom always inspired and challenged us to do our best. I have a beautiful, accomplished wife and two amazing daughters who are unrelenting in pursuing their own dreams. I hear stories of great mothers and daughters as I travel the Sunshine State. The three women who are being inducted into the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame today serve as a proud example to all Florida families. Their dedication to serving others has improved the lives of countless individuals and their legacy is a reminder of the important role that women have played all throughout Florida history.”
Clara C. Frye, (1872-1936), formerly of Tampa, committed her life to providing medical care to African Americans throughout the Tampa area in the early twentieth century. In 1908, Ms. Frye transformed her small, Tampa home into a temporary hospital, providing care to any individual regardless of their race. Through rallied support within the community, she established the Clara Frye Negro Hospital in 1923, the first African American hospital in the Tampa area.
Ms. Frye’s compassionate heart urged her to utilize her nursing abilities and offer up her home for those in need within her community. By 1928, the city of Tampa purchased the building and established the 62-bed hospital as Clara Frye Memorial Hospital, which ran until 1973. Ms. Frye dedicated her entire life to serving the healthcare needs of Tampa’s African American population at the turn of the twentieth century. In her honor, a pavilion was named after her at Tampa General Hospital and a bronze bust will be built on the Tampa Riverwalk as a remembrance of her selfless service to the people of Tampa. Ms. Frye was also inducted in 2011 into the Hillsborough County Women’s Hall of Fame.
Lillie Pierce Voss, (1876-1967), formerly of Palm Beach, survived the untamed wilderness of early Southeast Florida and was the first non-native child born between Jupiter and Miami. She became an integral part of Florida’s rich history, persevering amongst difficult conditions as a young girl. Her life amongst the Seminole Indians taught her how to shoot, hunt, fish, and sail a boat better than most men could at the time. In April 1876, her father became the first keeper of a newly established House of Refuge No. 3, where victims of shipwrecks could be rescued and find shelter. Due to the refuge’s strategic location, Ms. Voss encountered many influential people in Florida’s history, including former Florida Governor Napoleon Bonaparte Broward.
Ms. Voss’ impact on the state of Florida stemmed from her courage and stamina. Despite difficult living conditions, she survived the untamed wilderness of Palm Beach County, raised a strong family, and participated in some of the watershed events of early Southeast Florida. In the 1930’s, Ms. Voss, alongside her brother, compiled and condensed a 260 page manuscript entitled Pioneer Life in Southeast Florida to document the rich, historical accounts of South Florida’s early pioneers. Her deep-rooted strength helped her thrive in the eighteenth century wilderness of Hypoluxo Island and live in this exciting, historical time in Florida.
Aleene Kidd Mackenzie, 92, of Ocala, created equal opportunities for women of Florida and the nation throughout her lifetime. Urged by Governor Faris Bryant in 1964, she founded the Florida Commission on the Status of Women to advocate for the rights and accomplishments of women around the state. Ms. Mackenzie brought together a team of highly successful women to influence various issues such as education, employment and legislation for Florida’s women. In 1956, following the passage of Federal Aid Highway Act, Ms. Mackenzie also established a statewide committee of women to ensure that the 16 amendments passed by Congress would also be ratified in Florida. Her success enacted the Florida Association of Safety Leaders, linking together women’s organization throughout the state to promote highway safety. Following the leadership of Ms. Mackenzie, the U.S. National Secretary of Transportation, Alan Boyd, even adopted the same model for other states, eventually forming the National Association of Highway Safety Leaders. Ms. Mackenzie became the first president of the association in 1967.
In 1961, she also established the Florida State University Foundation. As a mother of three, Ms. Mackenzie’s motivation stemmed directly from her family, and influenced the causes she chose to support. From encouraging women’s voting rights to raising money for higher education, Ms. Mackenzie was an all-around pioneer for women in the early, societal frontier of the state. Through her efforts and dedicated commitment, the modern woman of Florida possesses unlimited resources to succeed.
Additional information is available on the Commission’s website at http://www.fcsw.net, or by calling 850-414-3300.