A TRIBUTE TO LILLIAN TRIBBLE. AKA “RABBLE ROUSER.”
The daughter of an American soldier and a German war bride, Lillian Tribble was born into a world of turmoil, between World War I and the Great Depression. After the war, her parents struggled in a broken land.
They came to the United States determined to carve out a life for themselves and their soon-to-be family. With no place to go, they moved to her paternal grandfather’s farm in Minnesota.
Lillian made her debut there, born in 1926. Eventually, the family landed in Detroit, and her father got a job in the auto industry. They had another daughter and bought a little house. Then, disaster struck: the crash of 1929. Lillian’s father lost his job. And her family lost everything –except their courage. But life was tough.
They lived for a while in a friend’s attic in Detroit, then moved to an unheated shack with no plumbing or electricity. Lillian was raised with a sense of perseverance and purpose. She was known to have a short fuse and a long memory.
She was a lover and a fighter. She wrote like a poet and swore like a drunken sailor. She got along “with unusual people” and was a self-confessed “nerd at school.” Above all, Lillian considered herself “a citizen of the world."
She grew up, got married, and had a family of her own. She escaped abject poverty with a wealth of determination. She made waves, made change, and made a difference. She’d stand up to support her family or sit down to protest a war. Lillian read Shakespeare and loved poetry but was tough enough to challenge the status quo. She took on corporate America’s gender-biased rules, winning the right to take off her skirt:
Until then, women weren’t “allowed” to wear pants on the job. She did the same for her daughter’s school. The school enforced the same dresses-only code as offices. Until Lillian spoke to the superintendent.
If you could wear pants on the job or at school, Lillian reasoned, you could wear pants in life. It was more than a fashion statement. It was a freedom statement, still felt by every woman today.
Lillian spent a lifetime fighting for fairness and freedom. The changes she wrought and the spirit behind them will live on. In all of us.
Sadly, the world lost one of its finest citizens in 2020: Lillian Tribble. AKA “Rabble Rouser.” Here’s to a life well lived and a legacy that lives on.
An American House Memorial Salute.
Lillian’s story. To be continued –by all of us.