Less is known of the youngest Pauling sibling than is the case with Linus and Pauline Pauling. What can be said is that, of Herman and Belle Pauling’s children, Lucile—quiet, shy, and warmhearted—was the least hardheaded of the three. Always unsettled when trouble arose between family members, she often took on the role of peacekeeper in the Pauling family.
Frances Lucile Pauling, known to everyone as “Lucile,” (and named after one of her mother’s favorite poems, “Lucile” by Owen Meredith) was born in Oswego, Oregon on New Years Day, 1904. Though both her brother and sister remained rather skeptical of their upbringing, Lucile would always remember a happier, more normal childhood – despite circumstances that might suggest otherwise.
Following Herman’s death in 1910, Belle Pauling, overwhelmed by the prospect of raising three children without financial support, opened a boardinghouse with the hopes of providing a living for herself and her children. After both Linus and Pauline left home when they were just teenagers, Lucile stayed behind to care for her mother and help look after the boardinghouse. Belle, whose pernicious anemia often kept her bedridden for long periods at a time, had relied heavily on her children to help make ends meet.
From an early age, Lucile devoted herself to her music. An accomplished pianist, she studied and taught music lessons when she wasn’t helping her mother.
In 1926, Belle, her health deteriorating, sold her boardinghouse for the amount of ten dollars. The buyer and new owner, at least on paper, was Lucile. After renting out the boardinghouse, Lucile and her mother moved to a nearby apartment, where Belle’s pernicious anemia intensified following the move. Her symptoms became so severe that Lucile could no longer care for her. In turn, Belle’s sister, Goldie, was called upon for help.
As a result, Belle was admitted to the state hospital for the insane. Upon visiting for the first time, Lucile was so overwhelmed by the sight of her mother in the mental ward that she tearfully begged that Belle be removed. Unfortunately, Lucile’s request could not be fulfilled and Belle, at the age of forty-five, died just weeks after being admitted. Later, burdened with disappointment, Lucile wrote to her brother, “I left decisions, [Belle’s] care, everything, up to others, being absolutely immature and irresponsible, and easily led.” She would always regret not knowing how to better care for her mother.
In the late 1930s, while working as a secretary in Portland, Lucile married Lemual Lawrence Jenkins (known as “Jenks”). Their son Donald was born soon after and the family settled in Estacada, Oregon. Lucile cared for the family home while continuing her music studies, teaching lessons and accompanying local musicians on the piano. Due to Jenks’s “restlessness,” the couple moved eight times in Estacada, finally finding the right place just before his death in 1965.
Though she was keenly interested in her family genealogy, scant documentation of Lucile’s own golden years remains extant. She did not remarry and was plagued by chronic health problems – little else is recorded in the Pauling collection.
A sufferer of heart disease, Lucile died on January 19, 1992 of ventricular fibrillation. At eighty-eight years, her life was the shortest of the three Pauling children – Linus lived to 93 and Pauline to 101 – a remarkable fact given the short life-spans of Herman and Belle Pauling, who lived to ages 33 and and 45 respectively.