(May 30, 2024) Lucile Wilcox Roeder was born in 1903, before women could vote. However, her life in Mountain Maryland was one of public service and volunteerism.

She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in education from Temple University in 1926 and taught physical education at Millersville State Teachers College. In 1930 Roeder became the foreign director of the Tokyo YMCA and worked as an advocate for the health and education of Japanese women, who had very little social standing at the time. She also organized women’s sports teams and excursions to places such as Mt. Fuji. 

Upon her return, Roeder earned a Master’s degree in social work from the University of Pennsylvania in 1936, then moved to Cumberland and worked for the Allegany County welfare office.  

She married, raised two children and volunteered for the Cancer Society, the County nursing home auxiliary and Girl Scouts. A lifelong member of Centre Street Methodist Church, she was superintendent of the Sunday School.

In 1950, Roeder became the first female city commissioner of Cumberland. The local newspaper referred to her as a member of the “fair sex.” She went on to serve three additional terms.

During those years, she served as commissioner of finance, streets, public property and parks. She believed that citizen action was the core of local government and she encouraged ad hoc committees and public input. 

In 1966 she was the first woman to run for Allegany County Commissioner to open County government to women. She received 4,000 more votes than the man behind her.

By the end of her political career in 1970, no one called Lucile Roeder a member of the “fair sex.” She had worked for two decades and made an enormous impact on the local and state levels. 

She was also on boards for such different causes as Maryland Environmental Trust, Keep Maryland Beautiful, the C & O Canal Association, Citizens Coalition on Surface Mining and National Highway Safety Foundation. In keeping a high profile in a male dominated activities, she became a role model for women to enter public service and volunteerism. 

Mrs. Roeder was clearly a woman of wide interests, tireless community work and enormous passion whose work touched the lives of many in Maryland. 

Thank you to Sandra Roeder, a longtime MWHC supporter, for supplying the details and images from her mother’s life.