Pauline Pauling with her sister Lucile, 1916.
My name is Pauline Darling Pauling Stockton Ney Dunbar Emmett, and you can see I’ve had an interesting life…
-Pauline Pauling Emmett, 1994.
The sister of one distinguished scientist and later the wife of another, Pauline Darling Pauling, the second oldest of the Herman and Belle Pauling’s children, led a long and eventful life. Once a record-breaking typist, a famous women’s athletic director, and a successful designer and businesswoman, Pauline found success in a plethora of careers and hobbies. Although she remained close to her Nobel Prize-winning brother over his lifetime, Pauline harbored more artistic aspirations than scientific ones. In addition to her professional success, she was a seamstress, quilter, painter, and coin and doll collector.
Pauline Pauling was born in Portland, Oregon on August 2, 1902. She remembers her childhood in Condon as “very stark,” remarking that “it was a wonder [the family] survived.” Following her father’s death in 1910 and the family’s ensuing financial trouble, her mother, Belle Darling Pauling, opened a boardinghouse to support the family. Linus, Pauline, and their younger sister, Lucile, were responsible for the many domestic duties of the boardinghouse as their mother, suffering from a general weakness (later diagnosed as pernicious anemia), had become increasingly dependent on the help of her children.
Pauline Pauling on a hiking excursion in the Oregon forest, 1921.
Pauline, an extrovert by nature, couldn’t wait to escape the small-town life of Condon. An energetic and pretty girl, Pauline became something of a socialite as a teenager.
She dated a string of boys, frequently attended swimming and singing events, and often arranged social get-togethers. As a student at Franklin High School in Portland, Pauline dropped out for a year to attend the Behnke-Walker Business School. There she learned Pitman shorthand and the touch system of typing. She would later become known for her speed typing, breaking the world record on a manual typewriter in an unofficial test.
Pauline Pauling participating in a filmed athletics demonstration, Los Angeles, 1920s.
She met her first husband, Wallace Stockton, while working as a secretary for the Elks Club in Portland. The couple later moved to Los Angeles, where Pauline worked as the Women’s Athletic Director for the Club. Known as the “Elkettes,” the women’s group, attracting some of Hollywood’s most famous stars, gained much publicity for its numerous activities and events. Pauline and Wallace Stockton divorced in the late-1920s.
On October 6, 1932, Pauline married Thomas Ney. After living in Santa Monica, the two moved to Inglewood, California, where their son, Michael Ney, was born on December 23, 1934.
Pauline Pauling, posing for a Paddies, Inc. promotional photograph, 1940s.
It was around this time that Pauline took notice of a men’s slipper in an issue of Vogue. Using the pattern, Pauline refined the design to create a women’s slipper. Soon after impressing her friends with the prototype, Pauline began making the slippers and selling them from her home. Subsequently, her initially-modest business (Paddies, Inc.) grew rapidly. She began marketing the “Paddy” slipper to upscale department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, and I. Magnin. Unfortunately, Japanese manufacturers were able to copy her design and thus flooded the market with a cheaper model. Pauline lost her big accounts and, as a result, decided to sell the company.
In 1950, Pauline and Thomas Ney divorced. After returning to Santa Monica, California, Pauline became interested in numismatics, eventually opening her own coin shop in 1960. It was during this time that Pauline became acquainted with Charles “Slim” Dunbar, a coin shop owner from Inglewood. The two were married on August 25, 1973. Sadly, Slim, in ill health, died just 23 months after their wedding.
Pauline Pauling, Paul Emmett, Lucile Pauling, Ava Helen and Linus Pauling, 1976.
Following Slim’s death, Pauline returned to Oregon. It was there that an old friend, Dr. Paul Emmett, re-entered her life. Dr. Emmett, a prominent catalysis scientist, was a longtime friend and colleague of her brother. Emmett was, as Pauline recalls, “underfoot every minute until [she] accepted his proposal.” The two were married on May 22, 1976.
Pauline Pauling with her big brother Linus, 1993.
Pauline, lively even in her later years, cared for Dr. Emmett (who suffered from Parkinson’s disease) until his death in 1985. Following her husband’s passing, Pauline continued to live in the Portland area until her death on October 19, 2003. She was 101 years old.
Check back next week when we’ll discuss the life of the youngest Pauling sibling, Lucile. For more stories of Linus Pauling’s connection to his home state, please see our growing Oregon150 series.
Filed under: Pauling and Oregon | Tagged: Behnke-Walker Business School, Belle Pauling, Condon, Elks Club, Franklin High School, Herman Pauling, Linus Pauling, Lucile Pauling, numismatics, Oregon, Paddies Inc., Paul Emmett, Pauline Pauling, Portland | 3 Comments »