3rd National President
In 1957, The Links elected Link Pauline Weeden Maloney of Lynchburg, Virginia as the third national president. Margaret Pauline Fletcher Weeden Maloney, always called “Polly,” was born and grew up in Annapolis, Maryland, the daughter of William and Eliza Fletcher. She attended elementary school in Annapolis and Washington, D.C. and received her high school diploma in 1922 from Morgan Academy (now Morgan State University) in Baltimore, Maryland. She earned her B.A. degree from Howard University and the M.A. from Columbia University in New York.
Her professional career was Education. Her consuming avocation was friendship – especially friendship with young people, and with Links. She began as a Speech and English teacher in Winston-Salem, North Carolina but after her marriage, moved with her new husband, Dr. Henry P. Weeden, to Lynchburg, Virginia. In Lynchburg, Dr. Weeden opened his dental office and Link Polly served successively as teacher, guidance counselor and administrative principal at the city’s Dunbar High School. During almost forty years of service, she touched the lives of countless students whom she inspired to aim for higher goals. Many young people were guided toward successes in college and in professions, which they might not have tried without her encouragement. Link Polly would identify students with college potential, but without obvious financial support, help them make application and then she would arrange for scholarship aid.
Link Maloney came to be considered “Lynchburg’s first lady of education” and seemed never to recognize the meaning of the word “retirement.” After her years at Dunbar High she served on the Lynchburg Public Schools as Inter-Administrator and consultant for Lyn-Cay Headstart; and on many other boards including Mental Health, the Red Cross, the United Way, Polio Committee, YWCA, Lynchburg Community Action Group, Friends of the Public Library, the City Restoration Committee, Fine Arts Center, Bethune Child Care Center, Meals-On-Wheels, and the NAACP.
She maintained a relationship, begun as an undergraduate at Howard University, with Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and served as Director of the Eastern region– a subdivision that embraced chapters in nine states.
She was an active member of Jackson Street United Methodist Church and was elected corresponding secretary for the Washington Conference of the Methodist Church. In her state, Virginia, she served on the Central Planning District Commission and the Virginia Cultural Laureate Center. Three governors were counted among her friends and she received civic appointments from two of them. Her life was a series of firsts–she was the first Black woman appointed to the Lynchburg School Board in 1971; she was the first Black elected president-of the Southern Regional School Boards Association in 1974; and she became the first woman rector of the Board of Visitors at Norfolk State University in 1976. She served several terms as president of the Southern Regional Association of School Boards. (This region included eleven states and Puerto-Rico.)
Link Maloney received more than a hundred honors and awards from national, regional, state and local organizations. Saint Paul’s College, Lawrenceville, Virginia, awarded her the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. A special place in her life and affections was reserved for The Links, Inc. A member of the Lynchburg Chapter from its beginnings, she worked untiringly with the chapter in its outstandingly creative and effective programs–particularly the programs for young people. A teenage recreation program called ‘Teen-Age Soul Cellar”; transportation to the public library for disadvantaged children; a testing program to identify academically talented children for support and guidance; and art scholarships were some of the projects she helped develop into Lynchburg Chapter’s famous ‘”Keyboard” and the “Steps with Links” projects.
When Link Polly was elected in 1957, her aim was to develop for The Links, a national program in which every chapter would be involved and would serve needs no other organization was addressing. The decision to focus on identification and support of talented youth led to one of the most exciting and productive efforts in organizational history. She put in place the structure for the continuing pattern of active program involvement in which every member of every Links Chapter participates in some relevant community project coordinated by the stated goals of the national organization. Subsequent actions have modified and expanded. The Links programs, but by the end of her presidency in 1962, the organization had been set on its present course of action. President Pauline Maloney was a great American woman.
She died on June 22,1987 and was funeralized in Lynchburg, Virginia, her Links home since 1950. She was buried near her childhood home in Annapolis, Maryland. Memorial services were conducted by President Frazier, and the November issue of President Frazier’s Newsletter was devoted to her.
In further tribute to President Maloney, a memorial display was placed in The Links Headquarters during the November, 1987 meetings of the national committees and The Links Foundation. Some materials for the display were made available through the kindness of Links Alice Spraggins, former President, Washington, D.C. Chapter, and Susan Davis of President Maloney’s Lynchburg Chapter.
In The Links Souvenir Journal celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the organization, Editor Will Florence Robbins Hudgins had saluted Link Maloney for her “excellent leadership, which had brought the group to the climax of its first decade.” Under her wise and dynamic leadership, “Educating for Democracy” was adopted as the theme for the national program and the pledge to search for talented and/or gifted youth was implemented as an extension of the organization’s Services for Youth project. Link Hudgins further recalled that during her administration Link Maloney had widened the scope of the organization’s concerns to include the international scene by directing attention to the problems of the emerging African nations.
Although she was the third Link to serve as national president, in a true sense Link Maloney was a “first.” As the group’s Co-founders, Links Sarah Strickland Scott and Margaret Roselle Hawkins were uniquely able to guide its early efforts. But Link Maloney had the challenge of receiving their concept and reinterpreting it for new groups, in new places, and at new times. She was the bridge that carried The Links from youth to maturity.