Location:  2701 (US 377 S) Austin Ave.
Brownwood, Texas

Mollie Armstrong  Historical Marker

(January 23, 1875-May 23, 1964) Mary Elizabeth (Mollie) Wright Armstrong was instrumental in establishing optometry as a profession in Texas during the first half of the 20th century. A native of Bell County, she briefly attended Baylor Female College in Belton, where she met her future husband, Walter David (W.D.) Armstrong. They married in 1892 and moved to Brownwood. W.D., a watchmaker, opened a store in partnership with his brother and, as was the business custom at the time, the store inventory included eyeglasses. Mollie's interest in optometry began when a traveling optical salesman fitted her with glasses, curing her chronic headaches. Studying on her own, she completed a Kellum and Moore School of Optometry correspondence course. She excelled in her studies and finished her degree in Refraction at the Atlanta, Ga. Campus in 1899. She returned to Brownwood and opened and optical department in the family store, becoming the first woman optometrist in Texas. She earned her Doctorate of Optics from Northern Illinois School of Optometry in 1905. A leader in her profession, Dr. Armstrong was a charter member of the Texas Optometric Association, which she served as the first woman president in 1923. Gov. Miriam A. Ferguson, a Bell County childhood friend, appointed her to the Texas State Board of Examiners in Optometry. Dr. Armstrong later worked on national issues as a board member of the American Optometric Association. She was also a Brownwood civic leader, supporting libraries and parks, serving on the Chamber of Commerce, and founding the local Business and Professional Women's Association. (2006)

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