Women in Monroe
Elizabeth Upham McWebb “Aunt Bett”
Born near Flat Rock in 1904, McWebb moved to Monroe in 1908. She authored the Little Brown Bear book series and also wrote poems from her own life experiences. She drew inspiration for her books from a teddy bear that she loved as a child. Ms. McWebb passed away at the age of 99 in 2004, known for reading stories and poems to children at events throughout Monroe County; the statue of Little Brown Bear outside the Dorsch Memorial Library stands in honor of her dedication to the youth of Monroe.
Born in 1870, Ms. Golden was a teacher in Monroe until 1901, when she went West to teach at schools in Oregon, Montana and Arizona. 17 years later Ms. Golden returned to Monroe where she taught at Christiancy Elementary while authoring books that included Red Moon Called Me and The American Indian – Then and Now. Ms. Golden said in a press interview that she hoped her books would promote sympathy and understanding of Native Americans and prevent their further exploitation.
Ms. Crosby was born in Petersburg in 1888; she earned a doctorate degree in anatomy at the University of Chicago and became a neurosurgeon; in 1980 she was presented with the National Medal of Science Award by President Jimmy Carter. She became the first woman to receive full professorship at the University of Michigan Medical School in 1936, and the first woman to receive the Faculty Achievement Award at the University in 1956. Prior to her career as a neurosurgeon, Ms. Crosby worked in Monroe as principal and superintendent at Petersburg Schools, where she coached the boys’ basketball team.
Kaye Lani Rae Rafko
Born in Monroe in 1963, Ms. Rafko graduated from St. Mary’s Academy in 1981. She was crowned Miss Michigan in 1987, and Miss America in 1988. A portion of South Roessler Street in Monroe was renamed in her honor, and Rafko went on to make her home in Monroe, where she raised three children with her husband, Charles. Today Rafko is a cohost on the television show Only in Monroe, which airs on public-access cable television.
Elizabeth Bacon Custer (Libbie) was born in 1842 in Monroe. Libbie is remembered as a strong, independent woman who defended her husband, George Armstrong Custer, as a brave and honorable man after his death at the Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876 until her own death in 1933. She wrote three books, travelled the country giving lectures, and was a driving force behind the erection of the monument of George Custer in Monroe. Her family home was located at South Monroe and West Second Streets in Monroe, which is now the site of the Monroe County Historical Museum.