Rheba Crawford Splivalo was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1898. Shortly after her birth her father, who was
a Salvation Army officer, was transferred to California. She entered primary school in Sacramento, and completed
her education in the east. She was graduated from the North Avenue Presbyterian School in Atlanta, Georgia, and
did postgraduate work under Professor Wolff, a graduate of Magdalen College at Oxford, England. Miss Crawford also
attended Columbia University. She entered the Salvation Army at the time of the World war, completing her course
in training college in New York city. She was stationed in St. Petersburg, Florida, and later was in charge of
the Salvation Army work in the theatrical district in New York city, where the newspapers gave her the title of
"Angel of Broadway." In 1922 she resigned from the Salvation Army and returned to her father in San Francisco.
In 1930 Miss Crawford became the wife of Ray Splivalo. At the time of her appointment by Governor Rolph to her
present position as state director of the department of social welfare, a San Francisco paper said in part:
"As the 'Angel of Broadway,' Mrs. Splivalo was a blue eyed, blonde slip of a girl, flinging the fire of her
personality into evangelizing the Great White Way. The militant Salvation Army lassie who inspired a riot when
policemen arrested her on Broadway for blocking traffic, is more conservative now. She has exchanged the formless
blue frock for a modish gown. The blonde hair is still unbobbed, but it waves more softly about her piquant face.
Her eyes still flash with fire, one can't escape being militant when Irish heritage and soul saving fervor are
hers by birth and breeding. 'I like the masses better than the classes,' she has said many a time. 'I am more at
home on the street corner than in a drawing room.' She didn't give up preaching when she doffed the blue bonnet.
She still burns with a zeal for helping others. You can see it behind the blue placidity of her eyes. Determination
sits on the firm chin, and resolve in the tilt of her nose. She is tremendously well fitted for welfare work. She
has kindliness, understanding. 'I always want to fight for people who can't fight for themselves, and speak for
those who are inarticulate,' she said one time. 'I am at home on the platform. I can talk to five thousand people
better thane to four or five.' Her platform manner is inspiring. She has an Ethel Barrymoreish habit of running
her fingers through her hair when she's at a loss for words. And as if by electric contact, the words seem to respond
to the gesture. Relief for the aged, welfare work for women and children, help for the blind, supervision of women
in institutions, these are the tasks that fall to the lot of the state director of social welfare."
Mrs. Splivalo is also a facile writer and for two years was editor of the children's publications of the Salvation
Army in New York city. Versatile and accomplished, hers is a striking personality. As a social worker and a lecturer
on religious subjects she has accomplished much good, and for six months she filled the pulpit of the First Congregational
Church of San Francisco.
The History of San Francisco, California
Lewis Francis Byington, Supervising Editor
Oscar Lewis, Associate Editor
The S. J. Clark Publishing Company
Chicago-San Francisco 1931
San Francisco, CA
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