Place of Birth
Date of Birth
1892 – 1970
Activism & Advocacy
Robert A. Petteys and Helen Petteys Watrous
Anna Petteys came to Colorado in 1914, a graduate Phi Beta Kappa of Grinnell College and the proud wife of Alonzo Petteys. Alonzo purchased a bank in Brush, Colorado; Anna ran the home and took care of their four children. Her public interests were church, the Red Cross, and War Bond drives.
When the youngest child started college in 1943, Anna went back to school herself, driving 126 miles a day to Greeley. She earned a Master’s degree at Colorado State College of Education (now the University of Northern Colorado).
The Petteyses established a scholarship fund in the name of their older son who died during World War II, giving one boy each year a two-year scholarship to Northeastern Junior College in Sterling. That has expanded to eleven young men currently. In northeastern Colorado, the Petteyses practiced a quiet philanthropy, funding community needs like the Northeast Colorado Rehabilitation Center, hospital and library additions, a safehouse for women in Morgan County, the Washington County Events Center, the Wray Rehabilitation and Activity Center, volunteer fire departments, and projects from Julesburg to Holyoke to Haxtun. Anna and her son bought a radio station and two newspapers that served the people of northeastern Colorado.
In 1945, Petteys was appointed to the boards of several Colorado colleges, including Adams State University and Colorado State College of Education. Petteys was the first woman to be elected to the Colorado Board of Education. She chaired the board three times, advocating schools for migrant children and those needing special education, improvement of small high schools, and a Commissioner of Education to carry out these programs. This caught the attention of the White House, and in 1950 she was appointed to the Committee on Education for Migrant Children and later to the Committee for Special Education. She was selected to attend the United Nations Charter Convention in San Francisco, and was then appointed to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women and the UN Speakers’ Bureau. In these capacities she visited and spoke to women’s groups on six continents, urging women everywhere to assume leadership and to promote education in their countries. Her message across the world was that education and freedom are intertwined.