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Placeway, Lola Bennett Pearson

Published onOct 11, 2021
Placeway, Lola Bennett Pearson

(December 18, 1868 - January 5, 1930)

Quick Facts

Placeway was a well-liked chemistry instructor known for her inspiring methods.

Lola Ann Placeway was born December 18, 1868 in Putnam Township, Livingston County, Michigan. She grew up in Pinckney, Michigan and graduated from high school in Howell, Michigan. She then taught one term of country school, before entering Iowa State College (now University) in July of 1892. She graduated with the BS in 1895. During college, she was a member of Pi Beta Phi Sorority, the Science Club, and the Goblin Quartette.

Lola Placeway became an Assistant in Chemistry while still an undergraduate, and remained in that position until 1898, when she was named Instructor. She became an Assistant Professor in 1904 and an Associate Professor in 1905.

According to a tribute by Maria Roberts in the March 1930 Alumnus, Lola Placeway was well liked as a teacher and “had unusual ability in presenting her material in the classroom and many teachers of chemistry and of other subjects have felt that the inspiration of her methods have helped to make their success.” Her concern for her students extended beyond the classroom, and “no day was so long but that she was ready to add more of her time in office, classroom or home in help to those in difficulty.”

With Alfred A. Bennett, the Head of ISU’s Chemistry Department, she authored a beginning chemistry textbook, General Chemistry and Elementary Qualitative Analysis, published by Nixon-Jones Printing Company in 1910. The book was based on their years of experience teaching beginning chemistry, and in the preface, they stated: “…qualitative analysis, if it is not regarded merely as a system for working out a certain number of puzzles, but as a means to the end of learning the science of chemistry, is an excellent method of chemical study.”

Alfred A. Bennett had served as the Head of Iowa State’s Chemistry Department from 1885 to 1913. In 1913, he and Lola Placeway left the Iowa State faculty, and were married on June 19, 1913 in Hartland, Michigan.

They moved to Orange, California, where they lived on an orange ranch. After the move, Lola Placeway Bennett participated in local affairs, serving on the Board of Trustees of the City Library and the Board of Trustees of the Intermediate Schools of Orange. She was also a member of the Women’s Club of Orange. While in Ames, she had joined P.E.O, and she continued this activity, over time holding all of the offices in her local chapter. She then served as corresponding secretary and vice-president at the state level. In 1921/1922, she was president of the California State Chapter of P.E.O.

Alfred A. Bennett died as the result of a boating accident on June 23, 1922 at Big Bear Lake in California. Several years after his death, Lola Placeway Bennett married Reverend Marcus L. Pearson, a retired Presbyterian minister. He was still active in Presbyterian affairs, and she joined with him in church activities.

The Pearsons also spent time traveling, touring much of the United States. In 1928, they took a world tour, visiting countries where missionary work was being done. After their return, she was in demand for talks on her experiences abroad, and she gave over one hundred presentations to California church groups in 1929.

Lola Placeway Bennett Pearson died January 5, 1930, after a brief illness. She is buried in Fairhaven Memorial Park, Santa Ana, California.

Selected Sources

“Alumni Class Notes.” The Iowa State Alumnus XXV, no. 8 (1930): 256.

Bennett, Alfred A. and L.A. Placeway. General Chemistry and Elementary Qualitative Analysis, 5-6. St. Louis: Nixon-Jones Printing Co., 1910.

“Details of Death of Bennett Learned.” Ames Evening Times (Ames, IA), June 29, 1922.

“Lola A. Placeway (I0568).”

Lyons, Louis S. and Josephine Wilson. “P.E.O. Sisterhood.” In Who’s Who Among the Women of California, 1 (1922) 198.

“Mrs. Lola Placeway Pearson Dies Sunday.” Ames Daily Tribune-Times (Ames, IA), January 8, 1930.

“Professor Bennett, ’77, Dies in Accident.” Ann Arbor Times News (Ann Arbor, MI), July 5, 1922.

“Professors: Lola A. Placeway, B.Sc.” History and Reminiscences of I.A.C. (1896): 242.

Roberts, Maria M., “A Tribute to Lola (Placeway) Pearson.” The Iowa State Alumnus XXV, no. 9 (1930): 262.

Tiernan, Elizabeth, editor. Iowa State College Graduates: Biographical Dictionary, a Who’s Who of the Graduates from 1890 through 1899. Ames, Iowa: Iowa State College Press, 1952.

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