On Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis named three new members of the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame. Each year, the governor selects three nominees from recommendations presented by the Florida Commission on the Status of Women.
“The Florida Women’s Hall of Fame was created by Florida Statute in 1982 to honor women who, through their lives and efforts, made significant contributions to the improvement of life for women and all Florida citizens. They are pioneers who have broken down barriers, created new opportunities, and championed issues to better Florida and its people. These women are immortalized on an honorary wall in the halls of the Florida Capitol,” the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame notes on its website. “At the Florida Commission on the Status of Women, we are proud to ensure that the stories of Florida women will be shared for future generations.”
Below is information on the three new members of the Florida Women’s Hall of Fame:
Doris Mae Barnes
Barnes, of Miami, made a significant contribution to Floridians and the world by helping shape Florida’s tourism industry by recording sport fishing for 50 consecutive years from the 1930s into the 1990s. Through her energetic efforts, she photographed thousands of anglers and celebrities with their outstanding, and in many cases, award-winning catches. Often at her own expense, Ms. Barnes sent prints to hometown newspapers in Florida and abroad and to the Metropolitan Miami Fishing Tournament, thereby presenting an enticing image of Florida sport fishing and helping make Florida, including Baker’s Haulover and North Miami Beach, a vacation destination. She was the first pioneer career woman marine photographer and the first “Official Dock Photographer” at the Baker’s Haulover Dock in North Miami Beach for 50 consecutive years. She served in this role until she 85 years old and has the distinction of being the only individual given the title of the “Fisherman’s Photographer.”
Dr. Judith Ann Bense
Dr. Bense, of Pensacola, established the University of West Florida’s Historical Archeology program. She also founded and chaired the University’s Anthropology Department and their Archaeology Institute. She helped pass legislation and obtain funding for the Florida Public Archeology Network (FPAN), a $1.5 million program operating at six regional public archeology centers throughout Florida. In 2008 she was appointed president of the University of West Florida and extended her term through 2015. As the University of West Florida’s first female president, she continues to inspire women to achieve both professionally and academically. As both professor and president, she has served as a mentor to many students who will one day be front-runners in the archeological world.
Millie Wilborn Gildersleeve
Gildersleeve, of Palm Beach County, was born a slave in Cuthbert, Georgia in 1858 shortly before the U.S. Civil War. She served as a trusted nurse and midwife in Florida during the Reconstruction Era. Despite the strict racial segregation of that time, Mrs. Gildersleeve maintained strong relationships with families throughout Palm Beach County. For many pioneering families tasked with building the area, she was the only source of maternal care. In 1950, Mrs. Gildersleeve was posthumously inducted into the Lake Worth Pioneer’s Association. The Historical Society of Palm Beach County has recognized Mrs. Gildersleeve as one of the first healers and medical practitioners to settle in the Palm Beach County area.