Frederica “Rickey” DeWyl was born on November 2, 1862, in Jefferson City to Swiss pharmacist Dr. Nicholas DeWyl, owner of DeWyl Drug Store. Instead of focusing on climbing social ladders, Frederica spent her time helping her father. She left home briefly to study pharmacy in St. Louis, and was the first woman in Missouri to become a registered pharmacist. She returned to Jefferson City to help her father at the drug store, and took over after his death. She had a knack not only for pharmacy, but also for business, and maintained the drug store’s success.
On November 30, 1903, Frederica married the Swedish engineer Ernst Simonsen. The couple took a great interest in the community of Jefferson City, supporting education and the arts.
After her husband’s death, the Jefferson City School Board wanted to build a new high school on “Hobo Hill,” as it was called then, but did not have enough money. Frederica provided the funds for the school, asking that it be named in honor of her late husband. In 1913, Frederica gave the school $10,000 to build and equip a manual training and domestic science department, two areas her husband had always wished the Jefferson City Public School would teach. A few years later, she provided money for one of the first intercom systems in Missouri schools. In 1947, students were allowed to listen to the Cardinals beat the Red Sox in the World Series Championship game.
Mrs. Simonsen enjoyed traveling the country and world, both with her husband and after his passing. Although she scorned publicity, newspapers commented on her comings and goings to California, New York, and Sweden, and other locations that sounded exotic for a widowed woman in the early twentieth century.← Hadley, Herbert S. Simonsen, Ernst →