Long Beach Women Who Made History
As a destination, Long Beach is known for its 5.5 mile-long beach, the Aquarium of the Pacific, the Museum of Latin American Art, and so much more. Long Beach is also a city with a diverse and storied history, and boasts many accomplished residents. In recognition of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, here are some of the women of Long Beach who have made "herstory."
A trailblazer who dedicated her life to public service, Doris Topsy-Elvord—known locally as “Mother Doris”—became Long Beach’s first Black councilwoman when she was elected in 1990. She was twice elected vice mayor by her peers on the council. She also made history as the first Black member of the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners. At age 90, not long after Doris Topsy-Elvord Community Center was dedicated in 2021 at Houghton Park, she passed away, and a celebration of life was held in her memory.
Major General Laura L. Yeager, 58, started out her decorated military career at Cal State Long Beach, where she joined the Reserve Officer Training Corps. A former military helicopter pilot for an aeromedical evacuation unit, she is now an officer in the Army National Guard, honored in 2019 to be named the first woman to command a United States Army infantry division.
Maybe it’s all that sunshine, but Long Beach sure does generate some amazing Olympians. Retired beach volleyball player Misty May-Treanor, 45, is among the best of the best with three Olympic golds. And, with teammate Kerri Walsh Jennings, she also won three FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships. She also played for the Long Beach State 49ers, captaining the team in a historic undefeated season. May-Treanor is now the director of volleyball operations at her alma mater, Long Beach City College.
Dorothy Still Danner
WWII Navy nurse Dorothy Still Danner, born in 1914, was a prisoner of war held by the Japanese from 1942 to 1945. Raised in Long Beach and trained to be a nurse at the Los Angeles County General Hospital, she worked at two hospitals before she joined the Navy and was captured in Manila—one among a group of Navy nurses who later became known as the “Twelve Anchors.” She cared for other POWs imprisoned with her and earned a Gold Star, Bronze Star and POW Medal, among other decorations.
The second was Beverly O’Neill, 92, who served for an unprecedented three terms as mayor of Long Beach from 1994 to 2006 and acted as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. An educator and former president of Long Beach City College, she graduated from Poly High School, LBCC and Cal State Long Beach, making her passionate about local schools. She also has her name on a theater downtown.