One of the outstanding members of the class of 1876 at KSAC was Miss Nellie Sawyer, who, in 1881, was married to Prof. Robert Kedzie who had taught chemistry here but at the time of his marriage was teaching at the Mississippi Agricultural College.
It seemed a particularly happy marriage, but within seven weeks the young husband was dead and his widow returned to her former home in Ottawa.
The following year Mrs. Mary Cripps resigned her position as superintendent of cooking and sewing at the College and, from among the several applicants for the place, the Board of Regents selected Mrs. Nellie Sawyer Kedzie. During the next 15 years Mrs. Kedzie built more broadly the foundations of work in home economics at this institution, gaining for herself and for the College a well-deserved reputation for pioneering in this field. Many of her students went out as teachers and some of them earned national reputations as instructors and research workers.
Of course many more of Mrs. Kedzie's girls became home makers, but whether their lines were laid in the fields of professional work or in the less publicized but more significant area of motherhood and home building, they carried through life the helpful and beneficient influences that had enriched them through contacts with a great personality.
In those days this College had no Dean of Women, but the services of that position were wonderfully well rendered by Mrs. Kedzie, so that every lonesome or homesick girl, every girl who had a problem of personal or social adjustment could always get, not only sane and wise, but also warmly human and sympathetic counsel from this pioneer home economist.
Mrs. Kedzie was scholarly, and she both wrote and spoke well; so she was popular in professional gatherings, and she most effectively extended her influence beyond the campus through work in farmers' institutes and other extension activities. Much might be written about the professional career of this woman both while she taught here and also in the more than half a centruy since she left this college. The building on the campus which carries her name was probably the first one in the United States erected for the teaching of home economics, and she was chiefly responsible for securing the legislative appropriation for the building. She has, indeed, been deservedly recognized as an early leader in her professional field.
However, this sketch is not an attempt to evaluate her work in the technical area. It is designed to recall to those who knew her and still more to impress upon the minds of the alumni of later years the fact that from 1882 to 1897, students here, and especially the girls, were privileged to know and love an unusually radiant, wholesome, wise, kind, and sympathetic personality--Nellie Sawyer Kedzie. After leaving K-State Mrs. Kedzie married the Rev. Howard M. Jones; so she is known to later associates by that name but the name that is so meaningful in the traditions of our college is that which she bore in the years of her service here.