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Mary Crisp


Dates: November 5, 1923 - March 24, 2007

Occupation: political leader, feminist

Known for: within the Republican Party of the 1970s and 1980s, support for the Equal Rights Amendment and opposition to anti-abortion measures; Goldwater Republican

Also Known as: Mary Dent Crisp, Mary D. Crisp

Background, Family:

  • Mother: Elizabeth Patch Dent
  • Father: Harry Dent
  • Brother: Richard Dent
  • Sister: Jesse Dent Cook


  • Oberlin College (botany)
  • Arizona State University (graduate study in political science)

Marriage, Children:

  • husband: William Crisp (married 1948, divorced 1976)
  • partner, at time of her death in 2007: William Tayler
  • children: William Dent Crisp, Barbara Crisp, Anne Crisp

About Mary Crisp:

Mary Crisp was a supporter of Barry Goldwater's nomination as Republican candidate for president, and for his election as president. Crisp served two terms on the Republican National Committee as a representative of Arizona.

Mary Crisp was appointed as secretary of the Republican National Convention in 1976, the year she was divorced from her husband, William Crisp. She shared the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee, beginning in 1976, with Bill Brock.

In 1973, Mary Crisp had testified for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) before a Congressional Committee. The Republican Party had supported the ERA since 1940.

At the 1980 Republican National Convention, Mary Crisp fought for continued Republican support of the ERA in the party platform. Crisp spoke against the Party's position for a constitutional amendment banning abortion and also spoke in opposition of the Party's position opposing federal funding of abortions.

In her final speech to the party platform committee, Mary Crisp warned that "We are about to bury the rights of over 100 million American women under a heap of platitudes."

For these positions, Ronald Reagan, whom the convention nominated, questioned Mary Crisp's party loyalty on television. The party even removed her name from the program of the convention. Crisp had agreed not to run for reelection for her party post, based on Brock's angry reaction to reports that Crisp supported John Anderson's independent candidacy. Crisp denied the reports, but agreed not to run again.

Mary Crisp went on to chair the national campaign for John B. Anderson in his independent campaign for president that fall.

Mary Crisp then became the director of the political action committee of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL). She founded the National Republican Coalition for Choice in 1989. Other members included Barry Goldwater and Betty Ford.

In 1992, still working to change the Republican position on abortion, Crisp asked, "How can we support freedom from government interference on economic issues but not on the most basic personal decision of all?"

From 1984 into the 1990s, Mary Crisp was national director of Business Executives for National Security.

Organizations: Republican National Committee, National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), National Republican Coalition for Choice, Business Executives for National Security

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