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OU Founder


The following is a timeline of the life of Matilda Dodge Wilson, OU founder.
 
1883 Born Oct. 19 in Walkerton, Ontario, Canada, to George and Margaret Rausch, German immigrants.
1902 Graduated from Gorsline Business College and went to work as a secretary for Dodge Brothers Motor Car Company.
1907 Married John Francis Dodge on Dec. 10.
1914 Gave birth to Frances.
1917 Gave birth to Daniel.
1919 Gave birth to Anna Margaret.
1920 Her husband, John, died of influenza Jan. 14.
1922 Sailed to Europe where she lived for more than a year after her stepchildren contested her husband's will.
1924 Her youngest daughter, Anna Margaret, 4, died April 13 from complications following the measles.
1925 Along with Anna Thompson Dodge, Matilda sold Dodge Brothers Motor Car Company in May for a record $146 million. She then married Alfred Wilson on June 29.
1929 Held a housewarming party at Meadow Brook Hall on Nov. 19, less than a month after the stock market crash.
1930 Matilda and Alfred adopted two children: Richard, at 18 months, and Barbara, at 3 months.
1931 Elected to the State Board of Agriculture, the governing board of Michigan State University. Her sister, Amelia, married John Cline, Meadow Brook Farm manager. Matilda's disapproval instigated a 30-year estrangement.
1938 Her son, Daniel, 21, died Aug. 15 while on his honeymoon.
1940 Appointed the first woman lieutenant governor of Michigan by Governor Luren Dickinson.
1952 Matilda and Alfred built Sunset Terrace on the Meadow Brook Estate to use as a retirement home.
1955 Received an honorary doctor of law degree from Michigan State University.
1957 Matilda and Alfred donated their 1,500-acre estate, its buildings and $2 million to Michigan State University to establish what became Oakland University. She also received the Distinguished Service Cross from the Salvation Army.
1962 Her second husband, Alfred, died April 6 from a heart attack. She then moved back into Meadow Brook Hall where she lived alone until her death.
1963 Gave each member of the first graduating class of Michigan State University - Oakland a diamond ring.
1967

Suffered a massive heart attack on Sept. 19 and died at age 83 in Brussels, Belgium, where she had gone to tour horse-breeding farms.