As an author, composer, and businesswoman, Rebecca (Meadows Welty) Dunn was a native of Osborne County who left her mark in a variety of vocations. Rebecca was born September 23, 1890, at Guthrie, Oklahoma Territory, to Perry and May (Rice) Meadows. At some point when Rebecca was young her father died, and the next item known about Rebecca is that within a few years her mother became a teacher in Downs, Kansas, where she met and married Henry Harrison Welty. He adopted Rebecca, who graduated from Downs High School in 1908. Rebecca went on to earn degrees from Washburn College at Topeka, Kansas, in 1912 and from Kansas State Agricultural College in Manhattan, Kansas, in 1913. On September 21, 1915, she married Grover Lee Dunn at Topeka, with whom she had a daughter, Patricia.
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The Onaga Herald
September 23, 1915
‘The marriage of Miss Rebecca Welty and Mr. Grover Dunn was solemnized Tuesday afternoon at four o’clock, at the home of the bride’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. H. Welty, 1241 Western Avenue, Topeka, by the Rev. W. E. Brehm, who is superintendent of the Congregational Board of Missions. About sixty guests witnessed the ceremony.
‘Preceding the ceremony, Miss Gladys Gaw played the Beethoven Minuet, and Miss Ruth Smith, who is a Kappa Alpha Theta girl at Washburn college, sang “At Dawning,” by Cadman, for which Miss Gaw played the violin obligato. Miss Fanehan Easter of Manhattan, who is a member of the fine arts faculty of the State Agricultural college, played the wedding march, and also the accompaniments for the violin and voice. After the wedding, the Phi Delta Theta orchestra gave some musical numbers.
‘The bridal party descended the stairs and the ceremony was read before the large window of the living room. The window was banked with palms and ferns, and the curtains draped with green, studded with pink and white dahlias, the color scheme throughout being pink and white. Opposite the window, the mantel in the library wore a similar decoration. Vine trained from the mantel piece over the fireplace, and blooming plants in pink an white brightened the drapery of green. In the center of the dining table was an oblong mound of pink and white roses and fern. The table was lighted with pink candles . . . . ”
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Rebecca was a gifted music student and did much work in revising and arranging for more than three hundred songwriters from the United States, Canada, and Italy. She herself was the author of more than three hundred songs and wrote the music for many more, including five operettas. Her first operetta, Sunny (1945), earned her first prize in a national contest conducted by Junior Plays, Inc., of Seattle, Washington. Her song Hallelujah Rain, a Negro spiritual, was placed in the Scottish National Library in Glasgow, Scotland, as being a representative work of American composition. Rebecca was a member of the Kansas Composers Club and in 1936-38 she served as president of the Kansas Federation of Music Clubs. In 1938 she became a member of the board of directors for the National Federation of Music Clubs as well.
Rebecca was also a recognized author. She wrote articles for the Negro Digest, Ladies Home Journal, KANSAS! Magazine, and the Kansas City Star newspaper. She was a member of the Kansas Poetry Society, the Kansas Authors Club, and American Pen Women. In 1979 she wrote the children’s book All Aboard for the Zoo, a tour guide of the Topeka Zoo. In her later years she lived in Arkansas City, Kansas, and Topeka. In Arkansas City she served as director of the Union State Bank and also on the board of directors for the Arkansas City Library. At Topeka she was a director of the Central Lumber Company. In 1959 she was named to Who’s Who of American Women. Rebecca passed away May 1, 1984, in Topeka and was buried there in the Mount Hope Cemetery.