Cover image for Texas tornado : the autobiography of a crusader for women's rights and family justice
Texas tornado : the autobiography of a crusader for women's rights and family justice
Raggio, Louise Ballerstedt.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Citadel Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
xii, 292 pages, 4 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, portraits ; 24 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
KF373.R265 A3 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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At the age of eighty-three, Louise Ballerstedt Raggio is an icon in the struggle for women's equality. She began her life in a small Texas town without electricity or running water and has risen to become a legend in the legal profession and celebrated humanitarian. Texas Tornado recounts the personal and professional journey of this remarkable woman whose life is an inspiration for women everywhere. From her poverty-stricken childhood to her stellar academic career as valedictorian and Rockefeller scholar, Raggio recalls her early life with humor and grace. In her own indomitable voice, she tells of her years as the dedicated wife who stood by her husband through forty-seven years of marriage; her struggle to raise her three children while attending law school; her battles with depression, financial insecurity, and life-threatening health problems; and her personal suffering during the Communist witch-hunts of the McCarthy years. Through tragedy, she managed to triumph, surmounting educational barriers, family expectations, religious restrictions, and professional blockades. Texas Tornado also chronicles the incredible legal career of this firebrand crusader, from her beginnings as a law student in a male-dominated school to her demoralizing search for a job in 1950s Texas, to her success in starting her own law practice and her crusade to win property rights for women. Raggio would eventually change the law forever, removing 44 legal restrictions to give married women equality in Texas. Her victories in Texas helped pave the way for women in every state to gain equal access to credit and start their own businesses. She became a heroine for businesswomen everywhere and eventuallyearn a place as one of the nation's 30 most outstanding family lawyers. Written with the poignancy and inspiration of Sandra Day O' Connor's Lazy B., this is a memoir that will hearten a whole new generation of women to overcome barriers and become full participating citizens in their world.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

As a jurist, she ranks alongside such outstanding women lawyers as former Attorney General Janet Reno and Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. As a feminist, she has been as tireless a crusader for women's rights as Gloria Steinem or Barbara Jordan. At age 83, Raggio (with the assistance of coauthor Castleberry) reflects on a lifetime of unrivaled professional and personal accomplishments in an exceptional memoir of her extraordinary journey from an impoverished rural Texas childhood to an impressive career as one of the most influential legal advocates of her generation. At a time when women were prevented from even serving on juries, Raggio was practicing law and pioneering legal, financial, and humanitarian measures that would impact countless families, her own included. Through a tumultuous 47-year marriage that produced three children and seven grandchildren, Raggio battled life-threatening illnesses, crippling depression, financial upheaval, and political subversion yet never lost sight of the abiding principles by which she was destined to live her life. An inspiring and illuminating look at the unequaled contributions in one woman's quest for equality. Carol Haggas

Publisher's Weekly Review

Best known for her work reforming married women's legal status in Texas, Raggio has enjoyed a reputation as a compassionate specialist in family law and, in her later years, has "come out of the closet" as a feminist. As she gleefully admits, when she started practicing law in 1953, such a practice was actually illegal, since as a married woman in Texas she didn't have the right to enter into contracts without her husband's signature. Once her career was launched, however, the reform of Texas's family code became her top priority and her most significant achievement. Raggio starts this autobiography with her birth in 1919 and her girlhood on her family's farm, learning how to make do. Talented in school, she made the most of that, too, even if it wasn't appropriate for a girl to attend college and excel. She married and had a child just as the U.S. entered WWII; her discussion of the stress of living through this war and its aftermath is the most dramatic chapter of her life story. After her husband was red-baited out of his postwar job, he pushed Raggio to go to law school. It was a struggle making ends meet at home, and being a female, sometimes pregnant, law student, but Raggio prevailed. A quiet pragmatist, she describes her life as one of "protective coloration," which, for the careful reader, may be more appealing than a tornado. 8 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. (Mar. 5) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved