As March is National Women's History Month, this column will feature outstanding Jefferson City women who have made a difference in our community.
As a newspaper reporter, she covered Harry Truman's nomination for president.
As a broadcast pioneer, she was the first woman to start a television station.
As an animal lover, she raised champion American Saddlebred horses and established a major shelter for unwanted animals.
And as the publisher of a community newspaper for nearly half a century, she wielded influence.
Mrs. Weldon was born Betty Goshorn in 1922 to second-generation Iowa newspaperman Robert C. Goshorn and his wife, Lenore.
Five years later, her family moved to Jefferson City, where her father began acquiring local newspapers, eventually consolidating them all into the News Tribune Company at 210 Monroe St.
Her mother was involved in bringing Girl Scouts to the Capital City and was an original member of the city park board.
Weldon grew up on Moreland Avenue and attended Moreau Heights Elementary School. For months in 1931, Mrs. Weldon ran ads in her father's paper with a reward of $10 for the return of Bozo, a 2-year-old brindle Boston terrier.
She was a talented dancer under Dorothy Roberts, a member of First Presbyterian Church, active in theater and Girl Scouts. She owned a yacht on Lake of the Ozarks named Jetty Jinx, which she loaned to the federal government for coastal patrol during World War II.
She learned the art of entertaining from her mother and business sense from her father.
She graduated high school from the Mount Vernon Seminary, Washington, D.C., in 1940. Then she graduated summa cum laude from Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts, with a degree in political science in 1943.
While in college, she belonged to the Boots and Saddles Club and was a member of the all-Holyoke Riding Team. After college, her father relented and let her buy a show horse, Kate Shriver. The chestnut mare won the world's fine harness championship in 1949 and 1950. She also had a three-gaited champion called Fourth Estate.
But it was Kate Shriver's last foal, Will Shriver, that was his crown jewel. In 1976, her favorite stallion, Will Shriver, won the Louisville show for the third year in a row, as well as the Five-Gaited Saddlebred World's Grand Championship. He then became the nation's leading sire of champions and record-breakers.
She and Will Shriver were inducted into the St. Louis National Charity Horseshow Hall of Fame and received the American Royal's first-ever Medal for Distinguished Service to the American Saddlebred Horse. Will was a collector's model for Breyer Horse Company. The American Royal named him the Horse of the Century.
The family's Callaway Hills Horse Farm was once the largest privately owned American Saddlebred breeding operation in the world. Visitors included President Ronald Reagan and actor William Shatner.
Weldon initiated the creation of a U.S. Postal Service stamp series honoring four well-known horse breeds. She was chairman of the Missouri Horse Racing Commission.
And her national service included membership on the boards of the American Saddlebred Horse Association, the American Horse Council, American Royal Horse Show Committee, American Quarter Horse Association, American Saddlehorse Museum, and the Lexington (Kentucky) Junior League Horse Show Committee.
She has been honored by the St. Louis Charity Horse Show Hall of Fame, the UPHA's Distinguished Service Award, the Audrey Pugh Gutridge Memorial Award, the Castleman Award and the Kentucky State Fair's Horse Show Hall of Fame.
Weldon worked in the family business after school, when most of the reporters were female.
When her father died 10 years later, she formed the Jefferson Television Company and fulfilled his dream of adding a television station to their print and radio platforms.
Using her father's initials, KRCG went on the air Feb. 13, 1955, with her 4-year-old Frank Jr. pulling the switch at the station built at the horse farm.
She and her husband, William Weldon, became publishers of the News Tribune, as well as presidents of KWOS and KRCG, when her mother died in 1959. Federal Communications Commission regulations removing media cross-ownership forced her to lose the television and radio holdings in 1966.
Weldon was active in the community. She opened the Goshorn Handicap Center, serving those with cerebral palsy, on St. Mary's Boulevard in 1960. The Weldons also held an annual Christmas party for hundreds of children for more than four decades.
She served as board member of Jefferson City's Family YMCA, the United Way of Central Missouri, the former Memorial Community Hospital, St. Mary's Health Center Advisory Board, Lincoln University Advisory Council, Housing Authority, Deborah Cooper Foundation (for riverfront development), Missouri Welfare Association, Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce and United Missouri Bank.
She received the Chamber's William H. Quigg Leadership Award and the local Zonta Club named its lifetime achievement award in her honor.
Michelle Brooks is a former reporter for the Jefferson City News Tribune. She has been researching Jefferson City history for more than a decade and is especially interested in the first century of Lincoln University.