She was called a legend in her own time, and for her, it was quite true. Born in Texas to a wealthy family, she was not named in humor, but rather after the heroine of an epic poem written by a paternal uncle. Rumors still abound that she had a sister named "Ura", when in fact she was the second of four children and the only girl. Her brothers had the more traditional names of William, Michael and Thomas.
Ima grew up in the heat of Texan Politics. Her father, James was elected to county attorney, district attorney, attorney general, and lastly the governor of Texas. She was nine years old when her father was inaugerated as the Governor of Texas in 1891. Her mother was a frail woman, and Ima took a strong role in her father's life. She travelled much with him while he was in office and afterwards.
As an adult, Ima took her family's wealth and connections and put them to very good use. After the death of their father in 1906, the children were left with a large fortune from oil producing land in West Columbia, Texas. When her older brother died in 1930, a large part of his estate went to the University of Texas. However, it was stipulated in his will, that Ima and her brother Michael were to decide how the funds were to be used. Ima had a cause for mental health services and founded a program that would spread the funds throughout the state for mental health services via a variety of Universities. In 1940, the "Hogg Foundation for Mental Hygiene" was begun. She also founded the "Houston Child guidance Center", an institute that pioneered in chld psychiatry.
Ima also had an interest in music. She had a great deal to do with organizing the Houston Symphony and was President of the Symphony Society for several years. Someone once said that Ima Hogg has "an exceptional combination of gracious firmness, insistence on seeking perfection, and impatience with obstacles or excuses." She used that and her great influence to create the Orchestra and bring world-renowned conductors to Houston.
The only time she chose to run for public office, she was elected to a six year term on the Houston School Board in 1943. She said "I really don't think I'm suited for that kind of public service. It is too involved with extraneous influences." She preferred to serve the public through her choice of personal philanthropy.
Ima was also into Historic Preservation. She first restored her parents home in Quitman, and then proceeded on to bigger and better things, such as the Varner-Hogg Plantation and then historical buildings in Winedale. Her best effort can be seen at Bayou Bend in Houston (they also have a WWW site), where she lived for 39 years. She gave the home to Houston's Museum of Fine Art in 1966 filled with American Antiques and furniture, whose origins had been carefully researched. It was the first of its kind in the American Southwest, and has been left, as her other efforts, with an endowment to maintain the building and see that it stays open to the public.
Ima was appointed to advisory committees on the arts by President Eisenhower AND President Kennedy. Her main recognition, however, came from her home state of Texas, where, in 1948 she was the first woman president of the state's Philosophical Society. She was a perfectionist who enjoyed greatly what she had and shared it with others. At the age of 93, prior to leaving on a trip to London, she said she was "going to hear the greatest music in the world one last time." She died while there in August of that year from a heart attack.
Susan B. Anthony Background