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CORRIGAN, LAURA MAE

CORRIGAN, LAURA MAE (2 Jan. 1879-22 Jan. 1948), an international socialite, was born in Wisconsin, the daughter of Charles and Emma Whitlock. She married, then divorced, physician Duncan R. MacMartin in Chicago. In 1917 she married Jas. W. Corrigan, son of a founder of the Corrigan-McKinney Steel Co. Possibly because of her divorce, Laura was never really accepted into Cleveland society, so the Corrigans spent their time in Europe. Corrigan's lavish parties were covered in society columns in both Europe and the U.S., as her guests included the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of York. In 1925, Jas. Corrigan returned to Cleveland and took control of Corrigan-McKinney Steel, although Laura, except for visits, remained in Europe. James died in 1928.

After James' died, Corrigan resided in Europe. In Paris when WORLD WAR II broke out, she escaped to England via Portugal. During the war she worked for French soldiers and refugees, organizing the aid group of French women known as La Bien Venue. Corrigan also helped U.S. citizens financially stranded in Europe. In Buckinghamshire, England, she ran the popular officers' Wings Club. Before the war, Corrigan received an annual income of $800,000. During the war, the U.S. State Dept. allowed her only $500/month, so she sold her jewelry, tapestries, and furniture to finance her activities. After the war, she received the Croix de Guerre, Legion of Honor, and Croix de Combattant from the French government, and the King's Medal from the British government. Corrigan had no children by either marriage and was buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.