MATHER, ELIZABETH RING IRELAND (3 April 1891-10 Nov. 1957) was a leader in civic and cultural activities and dedicated to making Cleveland a more beautiful city. She founded the Garden Center of Greater Cleveland (see CLEVELAND BOTANICAL GARDEN), funded the development of a master plan for rebuilding the UNIVERSITY CIRCLE area into a cultural center, supervised beautification of the grounds surrounding the CLEVELAND INSTITUTE OF ART, and organized relief projects and work programs during the Great Depression.
Born in Saginaw, Michigan to Clark and Lizzie Palmer Ring, Elizabeth left Saginaw at age 14 and travelled extensively with her family. She was educated at The Miss Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. On 8 Jan. 1913 she married James Duane Ireland and had one child, James Jr. They left Duluth in 1918 for Cleveland where Ireland became a partner in the M.A. Hanna Co. He died in 1921. In 1929 she married industrialist William Gwinn Mather. The union produced no children. He died in 1951.
As the first president of the Garden Center of Greater Cleveland in 1930, Mather guided the center into becoming one of the nation's leading horticulture institutions. In 1931 she was named the Cuyahoga County Grand Jury's first woman foreman. Seeking to improve the well-being of others, Mrs. Mather promoted a vegetable relief garden project during the Depression which benefitted over 40,000 people.
She worked as a social worker at Rainbow Hospital for Crippled Children and made generous contributions to WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY, The CLEVELAND MUSEUM OF ART, and TRINITY CATHEDRAL. In 1954 she established the ELIZABETH RING AND WILLIAM GWINN MATHER FUND to promote Cleveland interests. In 1957 she provided the monies needed to create the University Circle Development Foundation and to hire an urban-planning firm to design the Circle area. An Episcopalian, she is buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.