California First Ladies
More than just the governors’ wives, California's first ladies have made important contributions to the state and its people. Maria Downey (John) felt that one of her duties as First Lady was to help the less fortunate. Jane Stanford, pictured at left, with her husband Leland founded Leland Stanford Junior University in memory of their beloved son, and she oversaw the University’s operations until her death in 1905. In 1900, she donated the Stanford Mansion in Sacramento to the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento for the “nurture, care and maintenance of homeless children.”
Mary Pacheco (Romualdo) was an engaging conversationalist and was known for holding some of the best literary salons in San Francisco and Sacramento. Nina Warren (Earl) made it a point to cook meals for needy families. Gloria Deukmejian (George) organized a statewide awards program to recognize outstanding volunteer achievement for Volunteer Centers of California. Gayle Wilson (Pete) first established an office for the First Lady in the Capitol where she worked on early health and math/science education issues. Sharon Davis (Gray) created the Governor’s Book Fund to provide grants to school libraries. Maria Shriver (Arnold Schwarzenegger) was instrumental in creating the California Museum for History, Women, and the Arts.