Catherine Pollard, 88; U.S.’ first female scoutmaster waged a long legal battle

From the Associated Press

Catherine Pollard, the Boy Scouts of America’s first female scoutmaster, who waged a years-long legal fight over the issue, died Wednesday. She was 88.

Pollard, who volunteered with the Scouts in Milford, died in Seminole, Fla., said Shawn Smith of Smith Funeral Home in Milford, which is handling arrangements.

Pollard ran a Milford troop from 1973 to 1975 when no men volunteered. But her application for a leadership position was denied when the Boy Scouts contended that a woman was not a good role model for young boys enrolled in Scouting.

The state Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities sided with her, but state courts reversed its ruling.


The state Supreme Court in 1987 upheld a lower-court ruling that boys need the guidance of men “in the difficult process of maturing to adulthood.”

In February 1988 the Boy Scouts of America did away with all gender restrictions on volunteer positions. Pollard, who was 69 at the time, became a scoutmaster in Milford and praised the Boy Scouts’ leadership.

“I do think that this is marvelous, because there have been women all over the United States, in fact all over the world, that have been doing these things for the Boy Scouts because they could not get a male leader. But we could not get recognition for the things we’ve done,” Pollard said.

Lou Salute, the Scout executive at the Yankee Council of the Boy Scouts of America in Milford, said Pollard was the first female scoutmaster in the U.S.

A message seeking comment from the national organization was not immediately returned Thursday.