DUFF, VIRGINIA ELIZABETH (1920 ~ ). Virginia Elizabeth Duff, state legislator, was born to Samuel Davis and Fannie Farrar Duff on August 26, 1920, in Ferris, Ellis County, Texas. While attending Ferris High School, Duff became interested in history and government and, thanks to an influential history teacher, Helen Goodlett, she joined the debate team. When Duff graduated as valedictorian in 1938, she attended Trinity University in San Antonio, where, in 1942, she received a Bachelor of Arts in History.
Following in Ms. Goodlett's path, Duff became a teacher in Hutchins, Texas, but only taught for two years before becoming a Laboratory Assistant for Magnolia Oil, which later became Mobil Oil.
While working for Mobil during World War II, Duff began taking law classes at Southern Methodist University, where she was one of only a few women in her class. Before graduating in 1948, she passed the State Bar and was licensed to practice law in Texas on December 16, 1947. Duff took her exam in the House Chamber in the State Capitol and decided that she wanted to serve the people of Ellis County as a representative.
Making her dream come true, Duff, after a tough campaign, was elected to the Texas House of Representatives on her 30th birthday, August 26, 1950. She followed in her great uncle, Bowd Farrar's footsteps, as he also represented Ellis County in the Texas House of Representatives in the 1920s and 30s.
Again in the minority, Duff, a Democrat, was one of only two women serving in the state legislature, but remembers those fondly. Using her legal background, she authored the legislation that made it mandatory for vehicles to stop for loading and unloading school buses and helped create the Denton State School. She also served on numerous committees, including the Governor's Advisory Committee on Segregation in Public Schools, Committee to Codify Laws Governing Local Water Districts, Governor's Traffic Safety Committee, and the Committee of the House of Representatives to Investigate the Land Scandal in Texas. Duff served in the Texas House of Representatives from 1951 to 1963, when she was defeated for reelection.
Returning to her job with Mobil Oil, until her retirement in 1976, and her law practice, Duff also became an active citizen in Ferris and Ellis County. She has been a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Ferris since 1932, and has served as an Elder, Trustee, and Clerk and was responsible for obtaining a state historical marker for the church in 1994.
She is an honorary state member of Delta Kappa Gamma, an organizing and charter member and past regent of the Rebecca Boyce Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and past chairman of the Ellis County Historical Commission. Representative Duff continues to serve as Director of Ferris Memorial Park, Inc. and helped obtain the charter for that organization.
She is the Past-President of the Smith Cemetery Association, a member of the Ellis County Courthouse Restoration Committee, and a member of the Board of Trinity University National Alumni Association. She has been listed in Who's Who in Texas, Who's Who in America, and Who's Who in Texas Historical Society.
Information provided by Representative Duff; Texas Bar Journal, November, 1998; and "From Ferris to Austin: pioneer lawmaker Virginia Duff." Ennis Journal, Wednesday, July 16, 2003.