Louisiana had two women in statewide executive offices prior to having any in its legislature. The first was sixteen years after women were eligible and initially was appointed.
Doris Lindsey Holland Rhodes (1909-1997)
Doris Lindsey was born on December 12, 1909 to Hollis Womack Lindsey and Minerva Thompson Lindsey in Greensburg, Louisiana. She lived the rest of her life in this small town in rural St. Helena Parish, which is just south of the Mississippi border and about fifty miles northeast of Louisiana’s capitol at Baton Rogue.
Her tenure in the legislature was a reverse of the usual situation: she served first in the Senate and then in the House. Her husband, Senator Harold Thomas, died in May 1936, when she was a 27-year-old widow with two children, and the governor appointed her to replace him. A Democrat like virtually all Louisianans, Doris Holland won the primaries and general election that followed soon after her appointment. Louisiana had four-year terms in both the House and Senate, and in 1940, Holland left her Senate seat to run for and win a smaller House district, representing a smaller portion of St. Helena County.
After leaving public office in 1948, she was the editor and publisher of the St. Helena Echo and also worked as an insurance agent. She retired after marrying bank president and department store owner James Harrell Rhodes in 1968, but remained active in civic life, especially Methodist organizations.
Her legislative colleagues elected her to the board of the Alumni of the Louisiana Legislature and Governor Edwin Edwards honored her at the 1992 Governor's Conference on Women. Doris Holland Rhodes was inducted as a charter member of the Louisiana Hall of Fame for Women and Government in 1994, three years prior to her death.