Lois Carolyn Mottonen, 88, of Cheyenne, Wyoming, the only child of Cecelia Sofia and Nestor John Mottonen, died December 6, 2017, at the Davis Hospice Center.
She was born in Rock Springs and lived in Wyoming all her life. She graduated with honors from Rock Springs High School where she earned a tuition scholarship to the University of Wyoming. It covered only a small part of her college expense. Student loans did not exist then. Her parents were not wealthy and sacrificed to provide the funds for her education.
Lois belonged to the Chi Omega Social Sorority. Many members became lifelong friends; she said this changed her life.
She majored in accounting and was the only woman in her class. She received an honor book for her scholastic achievements. When she graduated she couldn’t get hired by a CPA firm because firms didn’t hire women. Equal opportunity laws did not exist.
Dr. Clare Mundell, Dean of the College of Commerce at the university, and Dr. W.E. Daniels, head of the Accounting Department, were both Certified Public Accountants. They advised her to apply for a job with the United States Treasury Department. She was hired and worked as an Internal Revenue Agent and manager from 1951 to 1979. She has nominated for the U.S. Treasury Department’s annual Women’s Award for promoting women’s equity in government.
She was a pioneer in the field of accounting. She was the second Wyoming woman granted a CPA license. The Ford Foundation awarded her a fellowship to the University of Virginia. She enrolled in the Graduate School of Public Affairs and Public Administration. From 1981 to 1995, she worked for the Wyoming Department of Education. Her job was funded by the Carl D. Perkins Vocational Education Act. The money promoted sex equity programs in school districts and community colleges.
In 1995, the U.S. Women’s Bureau in the Department of Labor celebrated its 75th Anniversary. Lois was invited to the workshop. The final event was an afternoon tea on the White House lawn. President Bill Clinton and his wife shook hands with the guests. Because of cultural impediments to equal opportunity for women, she was a lifelong advocate for women.
Lois was the first woman in government elected President of the American Woman’s Society of Certified Public Accountants. Its membership was 5,000. The United Nations proclaimed 1976-1986 as the “Decade for Women”. At the 1976 AWSCPA annual meeting of the organization in Philadelphia, the officers chose the highest ranking woman member of the United Nations to be the banquet speaker. It was Her Excellency Helvi Sipila, the Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations for Social Development and Humanitarian Affairs. Mrs. Sipila was a noted jurist and attorney in Finland. Her address was “Women of the World in the Next 100 Years”. Since Lois’ grandparents were immigrants from Finland, she felt a kinship with the speaker.
In 1976, Good Housekeeping Magazine invited 200 Women Leaders from across the country to a workshop titled “Women in Passage”. Its theme was “Who Should Speak for American Women in the Era of Change. Lois was invited.
For 12 years Lois was on the College of Commerce Advisory Board at the University of Wyoming.
She was a member of the Wyoming Alumni Awards Committee for six years. The Alumni Association recognized her as an Outstanding Alumna. The Wyoming Chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons appointed her its state Communications Coordinator. Her work was to publicize the benefits of belonging to AARP. She held the job for nearly four years. The Western Region of AARP honored her with an award for her work.
Her interest in Wyoming history culminated in her being the President of the Laramie County Historical Society for seven years. For eight years she arranged programs for the State Employees Retirement Group. Playing tennis was a lifelong pursuit. She played several decades and won many trophies. After retirement she studied handwriting analysis and became a member of the International Graphoanalysis Society.
She is survived by cousins in Wyoming, Virginia, Washington, Utah and California.
A private interment has been held in Lakeview Cemetery. Funeral arrangements are under the care of Schrader, Aragon and Jacoby Funeral Home.
Memorials may be sent to The National Women’s History Museum, 205 South Whiting St., Ste. 254, Alexandria, VA 22304, or to the American Civil Liberties Union,125 Broad Street, 18th Floor
New York, NY 10004-2400.