Mary Paul, 1879 – 1961

Mary Paul, a quiet and gentle-spirited woman, broke new ground for women in Summit County by being the first woman to hold public office.

Paul was born in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, the daughter of Robert Spencer Paul and Sarah M. Romig. The third of four children, Paul attended Spicer School and Akron High School. After graduating, Paul worked as office manager for her family’s engineering firm.

When her brother, Edward W., was elected county engineer in 1913, she joined him at the courthouse and served as county recorder for 12 years. Always known for her keen sense of detail and precision, Paul was elected county recorder. She was the first woman in the county to hold such a position and won re-election twice.

Under the guidance of the Republican Party, Paul ran for mayor of Akron in 1929, but withdrew because she failed to receive the endorsement of the local newspaper, theBeacon Journal. She also studied law at Akron Law School, but never took the bar exam, saying, “I didn’t think I’d make much of a lawyer.”

Never married, Paul worked for public welfare with the Works Progress Administration under President Roosevelt’s New Deal Cultural Program. She also worked with the National Youth Administration and the Barberton Welfare Department. She was a title transfer clerk for the county auditor’s office until a few years before her death.

In her spare time, Paul was a member of the Pythian Sisters and the Royal Neighbors of America. The Past Chiefs Association and Nomads of Avrudaka show her on their membership lists as well.

An avid stamp collector all her life, Paul also enjoyed music, reading and nature walks. She prepared baskets for needy families during holidays and often helped people financially. Her interest in writing prompted her to contribute a chapter entitled, “Environs and Landmarks,” in the 1925¬†Centennial History of Akron.

Those who worked with her remembered Paul as “Miss Precision.” A story in the Dec. 18, 1961 issue of theBeacon Journal¬†said, “You might never guess she knew anything-unless you asked her. Then, whatever it was, you could be sure of a ready, complete and accurate answer.”

Photo courtesy of the Women’s History Project of the Akron Area

–Penny Fox