Activities & Accomplishments (January 3, 1879-July 8, 1957)
by Cyndy Bittinger, Former Executive Director, CCMF
Transferred to another church, at 16 years old. She transferred to a Congregational one from a Methodist one. The sermons influenced her. Her parents followed her to the College Street Congregational Church, Burlington, VT. She had piano and voice lessons.
She helped begin the Pi Beta Phi fraternity at the University of Vermont (with 14 others she petitioned for a charter from the national fraternity)
1902:Graduated from the University of Vermont (very few women in America were college graduates at this time)
1902-05: Teacher at the Clarke School for the Deaf
Married Calvin Coolidge October 4, 1905
Despite their “vastly different temperaments and tastes” had a long marriage. She listened to him and was his helpmate as he climbed up the political ladder to the presidency.
She witnessed his swearing in as president by his father (the only woman in the room)
She was often at social gatherings and helped make his presidency more social as she interacted with powerful dignitaries.
Early death of her husband: Calvin died in 1933, leaving her many years more to live. She sold their house (The Beeches) and oversaw the building of a new house across the street from a close friend.
She had two sons, John (1906) and Calvin, Jr. (1908). She largely raised them alone during the week as her husband lived in Boston as a representative and state senator, then Lt. Governor and Governor. He came home on weekends to Northampton, MA. When Calvin became Vice President, both boys were sent to Mercersberg Academy in Mercersberg, PA, a school about one hour from Washington, D.C.
Her most trying time must have been the death of their son, Calvin, Jr. He and his brother, John, played tennis on the White House courts. He got a blister which festered into blood poisoning. He languished and died as the entire nation watched and waited in July of 1924. The Democratic convention adjourned out of respect. Grace had to pull everything together after this death for a national campaign and a new term for her husband.
She had two granddaughters from the marriage of son, John, and Florence Trumbull.
Lifelong Interest and Philanthropy:
The Clarke School for the Deaf:
Trustee 1933-57, President of the Board: for 17 years
Jack Kennedy was on the board and became interested in their work; he passed the federal aid to teachers of the deaf as president.
Grace chaired the centennial fund in the 1950’s. She also served on the board of trustees for Mercersberg Academy and was instrumental in helping build the chapel.
At the White House:
She was the first to invite people with disabilities to the White House (Helen Keller is an example.)
She was the Honorary Chair, World Fellowship Through Music convention
and presided over the Golden Age of the White House Musicale
She was First Lady of Baseball due to her interest in the sport.
She made a coverlet for the Lincoln Bedroom
Post White House:
In 1929, she received an Honorary degree from Smith College and was named by Good Housekeeping as one of the 12 greatest women 1929, She wrote “Open Door” as one of her four poems and wrote about her life for magazines.
1930: honorary degree from the University of Vermont
1939: Raised funds to bring children from Germany to the U.S. and was Honorary Chair of the Northampton committee to raise money for the Queen Wilhelmina Fund for the Dutch victims of the Nazi invaders.
In 1931, she received a gold medal for her humanitarian work
She loaned her house (Road Forks) to the Waves (Navy Women) in World War II
1942-49: Worked for the Red Cross and her church in Northampton, MA