Remembering Libby Cater


Remembering Libby Cater, a Celebrated First Lady and Friend to Washington College


Libby Cater served as Washington College’s First Lady from 1982 to 1990, during the tenure of her spouse, President Douglass Cater. In addition to being celebrated as a remarkable figure in Chestertown, she was also a nationally recognized advocate for women’s equality.

Born in Birmingham, AL in 1925, Cater had an exemplary career in public service that got its start when she was an undergraduate student at the University of Alabama and became the Student Government Association’s first female president.

She graduated from the University with honors in 1946 and took a job as administrative assistant to Alabama Rep. Laurie Battle in Washington, D.C.  In 1950, she married Silas Douglass Cater, Jr.

Her career accomplishments included serving as special assistant to Lady Bird Johnson during the 1964 presidential campaign, and being named assistant executive director of the President’s Commission on Women by President Jimmy Carter. She also held similarly impactful roles at the Aspen Institute and the National Endowment for the Arts.

As quoted in a recent article in the Marin Independent Journal, Cater’s daughter, Morrow Cater, said, “My mother had the ability to bring people together and was the life of the party. She taught me that gender does not determine your potential.”

As a true partner to her husband in leading Washington College for those eight years, she was one of the key fundraisers for a $40-million capital campaign and helped to further the institution’s name recognition within her powerful circle of friends and associates.

In 1990, she was presented with an honorary Washington College degree in Public Service.

For a more personal account of Cater’s legacy, here is a link to a remembrance by her friend and colleague, Sherry Magill, PhD.

Cater, who had remarried after Douglass’ death in 1995 and went by Libby Halaby, died on January 7 in San Rafael, CA. She was 96 years old.