Babcock, Wealthy

Year Inducted: 
Wealthy Babcock
  • 1986:Honored by the KU Athletics Department as a leading fan for 70 years, never missing one basketball game until illness in her later years
  • Outstanding Mathematics Professor for over 40 years
  • Namesake of KU Mathematics Library, of which she was Librarian from 1934-1966
  • 1966: private ceremony for her Outstanding Service to the University
  • 1977: received Fred Ellsworth Medallion from the KU Alumni Association

Wealthy Babcock (Nov 18, 1895-April 10, 1990) was a beloved teacher, dedicated member of the University of Kansas, and a renowned KU Basketball supporter for over 70 years.

After teaching for two years in one-room country schoolhouses, Ms. Babcock attended the University of Kansas from 1915-1919 to earn her BA in Mathematics.  She left KU for one year to teach at Neodesha High School, and then returned to be a math instructor from 1920-1922.  She received her MA from KU in 1922 and followed with a PhD in 1926.  By all accounts, she was an excellent educator of analytic geometry and calculus, and often considered THE teacher in KU’s Mathematics Department.  As one colleague commented, Professor Babcock was a “beloved teacher of mathematics.  She explained the subject clearly to her students, she answered their questions and was patient, and she knew them and was interested in their progress.”

Professor Babcock was very involved in the University.  She served for 40 years on many committees on scholarship, financial aid, and academic awards.  From 1934-1966, she served as the Librarian of the Mathematics Library in addition to her 15 credit hours of teaching.  In 1966, she was honored in a private ceremony for Outstanding Service, and the Library was retitled in her name.  In 1977, she received the Fred Ellsworth Medallion from the Alumni Association for her dedicated service to the University.

Perhaps Professor Babcock is known most affectionately as an avid University of Kansas Athletics fan.  The first time she ever saw a football game was in 1915, when she purchased the KU activity card for $5. She attended every single football game for years with her best friend and fellow Mathematics Department Professor, Florence Black.  They even attended every Saturday morning football team meeting in which they would look over films and support the players.  But she was even more renowned for her love of basketball.  As an undergraduate, she played on the girls’ basketball team,  however, she earned her fame as a lifetime fan of KU mens’ basketball.  Wealthy Babcock held KU basketball courtside season tickets for over 70 seasons.  In 1986, she was honored by the Athletic Department as a leading fan for 70 years.  She did not miss a single game, save some in the 1967-68 season due to an operation and in the final years of her life, when she was ill.  Even when she was confined to a wheelchair, she did not miss KU basketball games.

Professor Babcock remained active even after her retirement in 1966.  She rode horses with Florence Black well past age 70, and at the age of 84, she told a reporter that she still tried to paint 24 feet /day of the fence surrounding her 80 acres of land.  In regards to her career, she once simply stated, “I’ve enjoyed teaching very much.  It has been the most important part of my life.”

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