An Avid Gardener
Ilo Browne was born in 1888 and grew up in Indianola, Iowa. She graduated from the College of Fine Arts at Drake University in 1917. She married Henry A. Wallace in a 1914 ceremony conducted by his grandfather, Henry Wallace. In addition to H.A.’s work at Wallaces’ Farmer, they began their married life as experimental farmers.
Ilo’s family land was an important asset for her husband’s ambitions. When Henry. A. finally perfected the technique of producing hybrid seed corn, he needed capital to start Hi-Bred Corn Company. That money came from Ilo’s inheritance, part of which was used to purchase the first farm at the present headquarters in Johnston, Iowa. She would later make major philanthropic contributions in the area of agriculture.
As wife of the Agriculture Secretary, Vice President, and Commerce Secretary, Ilo played an active role in Washington, DC social life in a circle that included Eleanor Roosevelt. She entertained dignitaries, was active in the Red Cross, and traveled and campaigned with her husband. In 1942, Ilo christened the battleship, USS Iowa.
Ilo was a devoted wife and mother to three children: Henry Browne, Robert, and Jean. Ilo died in 1981.