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Louise Coe was the first woman elected to the New Mexico State Senate, and at 28 was the youngest person at the time to hold the office. Improvement of the state's system of public education was her main concern during four consecutive terms, from 1925 to 1941.
As chairman of the Senate education committee for 10 years, she was influential in securing passage of many bills aimed at upgrading education: free textbooks, larger libraries, better qualifications for teachers, higher teacher salaries. She initiated bills which provided for a teacher retirement fund and tenure, and worked for school consolidation. She promoted the state sales and severance taxes as sources of school finance.
During her legislative career she stayed informed on school matters through her friend Georgia Lusk, State Superintendent of Public Instruction. in 1931, Louise was appointed state supervisor of high schools for one year.
Fellow members elected Louise to preside over the Senate as president pro tempore during her last term, an honor which placed her fourth in line of succession as governor of the state.
In addition to her educational work, Louise sponsored a bill which attempted to give a wife the right to control her separate property without consent of her husband. Her bills defining the official flag, bird, animal and flower set New Mexico's image as a state, and her motion for all rights to "O, Fair New Mexico", the state song, provided an annuity to blind composer Elizabeth Garrett.
Defeated by Clinton P. Anderson in a bid for the U.S. Congress in 1942, Louise turned to helping her husband develop their large ranch on the Ruidoso in Lincoln County.
As county school superintendent in Lincoln County, from 1923 to 1925, she had consolidated several small rural schools into one workable district, an innovative concept in educational management at the time.
She played an important part in the continuing success and development of Coe Ranch and was one of the main forces behind the Lincoln County Historical Pageant, which preserves and recreates the colorful history of that part of our state.
Wilbur Coe. Ranch on the Ruidoso (The Story of a Pioneer Family in New Mexico, 1871-1968), N.Y., Alfred A. Knopf, 1968.
Laws of New Mexico, 1931, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1937, from N.M. State Records and Archives, Santa Fe.
Oral history of Louise Coe, Oct. 23, 1975 by Marilyn Dunn, Albuquerque Branch, AAUW.
History | Women's History
American Association of University Women-New Mexico. "Louise Coe." (1976). http://digitalrepository.unm.edu/nm_women_aauw/3