Maureen Hayes Mansfield
March 25, 1905 - September 20, 2000
we first met in 1928, my wife has been the greatest influence
in my life, bar none..."
— Mike Mansfield,
The Nikkei Weekly, September 13, 1999
Born in Irondale, Washington, March 25, 1905, Maureen spent most
of her youth in Butte, Montana, as the oldest child of Mary Frances
Sullivan and Francis Fairclough (Frank) Hayes.
Maureen graduated from Butte's St. Joseph Academy in 1922. She
enrolled at Clarke College, Dubuque, Iowa from 1922-24 and transferred
to St. Mary's, the women's college of Notre Dame University, where
she received an A.B. degree. In 1977, Clarke College presented
Maureen with an Honorary Doctorate.
Maureen met Mike Mansfield in the
spring of 1928 when he was a copper miner and she was a teacher.
They fell in love, and she inspired him to leave the mines and
obtain an education.
Maureen recognized a strength and potential in Mike unseen by
others. In 1931 with her encouragement, he applied to Montana State
University in Missoula (later The University of Montana), despite
the fact he was an eighth grade dropout. He was accepted as a provisional
student on condition he complete high school equivalency courses
before enrolling, which he did with her help. Mike began college
in December 1931 while Maureen retained her teaching job in Butte.
Maureen moved to Missoula to marry Mike on September 13, 1932.
Maureen, Anne and Mike Mansfield
at home in Missoula, Montana (1939). Courtesy of the Mike Mansfield
Collection, K Ross Toole Archives, The University of Montana,
Maureen cashed in her life insurance and worked as a social worker
to support her husband through the University, where he received
his A.B. degree in 1933. He became a graduate teaching assistant
and received his M.A. degree in history and political science in
1934. Maureen also continued her studies and received her M.A.
in English the same year. She wrote her master's thesis on the
biographies of Emily Bronte; he wrote his on early U.S. diplomatic
relations with Korea.
Maureen and Mike Mansfield
with Premier Zhou En-lai of China (1974). Courtesy of the
Mike Mansfield Collection, K Ross Toole Archives, The University
of Montana, Missoula, Montana
After Mike became an assistant professor of Far Eastern History
at The University of Montana, Maureen suggested he enter politics.
She organized the support of students, faculty and friends, but
his 1940 run to win the Democratic primary for the Montana Western
District House was unsuccessful. In 1942, he ran again for the
House seat and was elected to the first of five House terms (1943-53)
and then to the Senate (1953-77). They both served Montana and
the nation in Washington, DC and in Tokyo as the U.S. ambassador
to Japan from 1977-88. The Mansfields returned to Washington, DC
in 1988, where they spent their final days.