Luminary Women Initiative to honor local women at the Ames History Museum

Pauletti Lasley was just 38 in 1992 when she suffered a massive stroke, cutting short her nursing career.

According to her husband, Paul Lasley, she focused on being a full-time mother and “professional community volunteer” at Israel Hospice House, Mary Greeley Medical Center and Ames United Church of Christ.

“She opened her home as a refuge for troubled girls and young women who sought her out for moral support as they faced personal challenges,” Paul wrote in a short biography about her.

Her biography will be on display as part of the Ames History Museum’s Luminary Women Initiative, a new exhibition that will highlight the often underrepresented contributions of local women. It will be displayed around the base of the skylight in the museum’s Thelma and Marvin Miller Reading and Research Room, 416 Douglas Ave.

The exhibition will also help raise funds for a major renovation and expansion of the museum in the Pantorium building, which will add almost five times the exhibition space, as well as conference space available for rent and rooms for the design and storage of exhibits.

After:Interactive Dinkey, restored Pantorium illuminated sign planned for Ames History Museum expansion

Paul Lasley is one of the first two contributors to the Luminary Women Initiative. Phil Baumel also contributed to the initiative in honor of his late wife, Rita Baumel.

Pauletti Lasley grew up on the family farm near Coatsville, Missouri. In 1976, she earned a nursing degree from the Iowa Methodist School of Nursing in Des Moines. For five years she was a pediatric nurse at the University of Missouri Medical Center. The couple moved to Ames in 1981, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in family studies from Iowa State.

The planned permanent exhibit at the Ames History Museum will include an interactive model of "The Dinky," the Steam Engine that connected Main Street in Ames to the Iowa State Campus.

As a nurse at the Student Health Center at ISU from 1982 to 1992, she was the center’s first certified HIV counselor. Pauletti “spent many hours patiently advocating for those who felt abandoned or marginalized,” Paul wrote.

Pauletti died on July 12, 2019.

“Despite difficult medical issues, Pauletti demonstrated throughout her life the importance of giving to others. Many Ames residents and ISU students were touched by her generosity and her gifts of sewing, recipes , with a warm smile and the twinkle of his eyes.” says the biography.

Biographies and photos of Pauletti and other Women of Light will be available to the public.

“Three generations later, if someone wants to come in and look up their great-grandmother, they’ll be able to find her biographies in our system,” said Sharon Wirth, board member of the Ames History Museum and president of Making. HistoryCapital. Campaign, which is raising money for the $4.2 million museum expansion and renovation.

It costs $5,000 to submit a woman to the Luminary Women Initiative. The funds will be used to expand the neighboring Pantorium building to the south.

But it’s not just a question of money. It’s also about shining a light on an underrepresented demographic of community members, Wirth said.

The Ames History Museum plans to expand into the Pantorium building, which will add nearly five times the exhibition space, as well as conference space available for hire and rooms for design and development. exhibit storage.

“A lot of these women were working behind the scenes – volunteering, working in their church, hosting funeral dinners, coaching, mentoring, so many things that women do. Historically, that kind of story doesn’t get recorded. But it’s so important in terms of being the glue that really holds our community together,” Wirth said.

“If you were trying to find information on many of these women, you would be very hard pressed to find them. So we want to change that,” she said.

The reading and research room is part of the historic building of the Pantorium. The ground floor room at the rear of the building was originally the dry cleaning room. The original skylight was likely used both for light and to allow fumes to escape while cleaning clothes, Wirth said.

The room will be renovated, but several original architectural elements will be retained, including the tin ceiling and a large, heavy fire door that moves on a rail system.

The expansion into the Pantorium building will give the museum five times its current exhibition gallery space. It will also provide space to house and care for artifacts in a controlled environment – ​​many are stored offsite in less controlled conditions – and create gathering spaces for community use.

The museum plans to tender the project in November, begin construction in 2023, and open in 2024. Donations are welcome and can be made through the Ames History Museum website,

Ronna Faaborg covers business and the arts for the Ames Tribune. Contact her at [email protected]