Thelma Stovall - Personal Life

Historical marker #2171 in Munfordville (Hart County) commemorates the life and service of Thelma Loyace (Hawkins) Stovall, Kentucky's first female lieutenant governor.

Stovall was born on April 1, 1919, in Munfordville. Later moving to Louisville, at age fifteen she began working for Brown and Williamson Tobacco Corporation in order to help support her family during the Great Depression. As a young adult she became active as a union member and engaged in union politics. She served as the secretary for the Tobacco Workers International Union Local 185 for eleven years. Stovall remained an advocate for Kentucky labor unions throughout her life and political career. The last political office she held was in 1979 as Commissioner of Labor in Governor John Y. Brown's cabinet.

Thelma Stovall was educated at Louisville Girls High School and Halleck Hall. She studied law at LaSalle Extension University in Chicago, and she summer courses at the University of Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky University. During this time she also completed secretarial school. Stovall went on to be very active in the Kentucky Democratic Party and politics at the state level, including being Kentucky's first female lieutenant governor.

While working at Brown and Williamson she met and married her husband, Lonnie Ramon Stovall, in 1936. After retiring from politics, Stovall went home to Louisville where she died in 1994. After her death, Stovall was one of the few individuals to lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda. From a girl of fifteen working in a tobacco factory to lieutenant governor of Kentucky, Stovall was always a champion and political voice for labor unions and working people.