Royal Neighbors of America has empowered women throughout the nation for nearly 130 years as a membership organization, but also as an employer.
During a time when women had limited employment opportunities, they could find a professional home within our Rock Island, Ill. headquarters.
Dr. Hada Carlson was one of those women.
Born Hada Burkhardt, she grew up in Centerville, Iowa. In 1898 she graduated from the former Keokuk, Iowa, medical college, and later she took post-graduate courses in Chicago.
In 1899, she began practicing medicine in Rock Island. She began her career at Royal Neighbors in 1908, serving as the editor of our member magazine, The Royal Neighbor. Later, she was named the Supreme Recorder in 1911. In 1914, she married Martin R. Carlson, the mayor of Moline, Ill.
She worked diligently for the establishment of a department to write juvenile insurance which was organized in 1918. Under her direction, Royal Neighbors was one of the first fraternal organizations to offer insurance for children.
In 1921, she was named the organization’s Supreme Physician.
Dr. Carlson lived our mission of serving communities beyond the walls of her work. She was particularly interested in projects that benefited business and professional women. In her service life she organized many women’s clubs in the Illinois-Quad Cities region.
She was well-known as an active citizen and served a variety of roles with the Illinois Republicans. Dr. Carlson was a prominent figure in the party’s women’s activities for many years. She was well-known in the medical community as well and received medals of recognition for her half-century service as a physician.
Dr. Carlson served Royal Neighbors and her community until her death in 1949 at the age of 72. With hundreds attending her funeral, Royal Neighbors offices closed at noon on the day of her services.
Chairman of the Board of Supreme Managers, Frances Torkelson, said, “In her most active personal and business life she endeared herself to a wide circle of friends and acquaintances. Her useful life always exemplified the great fraternal principles of our society, and her record of 41 years of service and devotion is one that reflects her glory.”
In total, she served our society for 41 years and was a member for 50 years.
Quotations are from previously published copies of The Royal Neighbor. Copies of featured pages are available upon request.