Gussie Nell Davis
Gussie Nell Davis of Kilgore was best known for creating a "first" for Texas and the nation when Kilgore College hired her in 1940 to organize a group of girls to perform at half-time college football games. Her efforts produced the Kilgore College Rangerettes, the first girls' drill team to ever perform on a football field. In 1975, the Houston Contemporary Museum of Art honored her for creating a "living form."
During her 40 years as director of the 65-member organization, the various Rangerettes groups traveled over a million miles throughout the United States and abroad. Her Rangerettes represented the United States and the State of Texas in South America, the Far East and other points around the globe. They were featured at numerous football bowls across the nation, on national television, in movies and on hundreds of magazine covers.
Davis' honors include Who's Who in America, 1965 Honorary Citizen of Fort Worth and a State of Texas House of Representatives Certificate of Citation. Davis received the International Civitan Citizenship Award in 1969 and the Cotton Bowl Association 25th Anniversary Participation Award in 1974. She was recognized in 1978 as a Distinguished Alumnae of Texas Woman's University, and a women's dormitory at Kilgore College bears her name. At the 1996 Texas Dance/Drill Team Educators' Association's convention, she was inducted into the TDDTEA Hall of Fame. (The name was changed to Texas Dance Educators' Association (TDEA) in 2002.)
A talented musician, Davis was groomed to be a concert pianist, but upon entering the College of Industrial Arts (now Texas Woman's University) in Denton, she selected physical education as her career choice and later earned a master of science degree from the University of Southern California.
Gussie Nell Davis died December 20, 1993.