Jessie Elva Glidden
Jessie Elva Glidden was the only Glidden born at the homestead. Jessie was born in 1912, and was the youngest child of Mabel and John W. Glidden. She was named for her mother’s sister, Jessie Carter Leishman and Elva Glidden Bush, her father’s cousin. Jessie attended McMurray Grade School on the college campus, and DeKalb Township High School.
She graduated from Northern Illinois State Teacher’s College in 1935, majoring in home economics. Following graduation Jessie moved to Chicago where she began work with the Works Progress Administration and the National Youth Administration. Jessie worked as a sewing project supervisor. She also helped to get government food surpluses into the schools for hot lunches. It was the time of the Great Depression and Jessie threw herself into the work of keeping families afloat financially and emotionally.
After her father’s death in 1941, Jessie returned to DeKalb and ran Glidden Florist with her brother Carter. Jessie was an able administrator in a time when few women were business owners. In 1975 she and Carter sold the flower shop to Sven and Wenke Hansen.
Seeing the need for social services in DeKalb County, Jessie became a key player in the creation of the Family Service Agency in 1956. It was the first privately funded social agency in the county, and Jessie served as the first board chair. Launching the Family Service Agency was Jessie’s proudest accomplishment.
Jessie participated in many local club activities. She was the cofounder of the DeKalb-Sycamore Altrusa, formed in 1960, and was a recipient of their Woman of the Year award. She was an active member of the DeKalb County Democratic Party, and a charter member of the Thursday Arts Club, Stage Coach Players, and the Children’s Community Theatre. She was honored by the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce’s Athena award program and was given their Woman of Accomplishment award. In 1991 the community recognized the contributions of this grand dame of DeKalb with an “Honoring Miss Jessie” tea.
Jessie lived at the Glidden homestead longer than any other Glidden family member, remaining here until 1998 when she moved to Oak Crest. Jessie died in 2004, at the age of 92. Though somewhat limited by her physical disabilities, she retained an active mind, and was known for her positive “can do” attitude.