In honor of Women’s History Month we wanted to tell you a little about Gifford’s Flowers’ founder. In early 1938, Mary Elizabeth “Tillie” Gifford opened a flower stall in the farmer’s market at 5th & Yamhill in downtown Portland. She operated her business while also volunteering with the Red Cross and the USO during the Second World War.
After her son Marshall returned from the war in Europe, he, along with his wife Mildred and mother Tillie opened Gifford’s Flowers on NE Killingsworth St where they had a greenhouse and garden center. The business would go on to relocate downtown and has remained in the Gifford family for over 80 years to this day; eventually passing to Tillie’s grandsons, and her great-granddaughter, Laura who is currently the face of the business. None of it would have been possible if not for Tillie, a strong, dedicated, hard working and giving woman.
We value women like Tillie, and many others who all too often have had contributions taken for granted, accomplishments and achievements overlooked and faced systemic injustices and obstacles. Words written here can’t do justice to the countless women who have done things to shape and improve our community, nation, and world. But we want to give special attention and appreciation to a few women who have broken barriers both near and far. These are a few of the women who have taken it upon themselves to lead and inspire us. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Kamala Harris for breaking down barriers in politics. Pioneering local women winemakers, Laurie Lewis and Renee Neely. The women at Flagrant Mag, a groundbreaking basketball and culture magazine. And University of Oregon basketball player Sedona Prince, who harnessed the power of social media to bring attention to unequal treatment of women players by the NCAA, resulting in swift change.