Juliette Gordon Low was the founder of the Girl Scouts of the USA; because her birthday is October 31, this date is celebrated each year as Girl Scouts Founder’s Day.
For much of her life, Low had multiple chronic ear infections and lost most of her hearing in one ear because of improper treatment. At her wedding, when she was 26, she lost hearing in her other ear after a grain of good-luck rice thrown at the event lodged in her ear, puncturing the eardrum and resulting in an infection and total loss of hearing in that ear.
Low was living in Scotland when she became friends with Robert Baden-Powell, who had started the Boy Scout movement. Because Low loved exploring, learning, writing, sports and arts, and because she also loved sharing skills, she decided to form a similar movement for girls in the U.S. She created the first chapter formation in Savannah, Georgia in 1912, with 18 girls signed up. Girl Scouts now have about 3.7 million members and is the largest educational organization for girls in the world. Girl Scouts have various levels for different ages; Low’s nickname as a child was “Daisy,” and so the younger groups of Girl Scouts took on that name.
During her life, and after her death in 1927, Low received many recognitions and honors, including induction into the National Women’s Hall of Fame; a federal building in her name in Savannah; at least two schools named for her (in Savannah and Anaheim, CA); a postage stamp in her name in 1948; a bust sculpture of Low which sits in the state capitol of Georgia; a wax sculpture in the traveling exhibit, The Deaf World in Wax; a medallion honoring her life in the Extra Miles Point of Light Volunteer Walkway in Washington, DC; and, in 2012, the posthumous award of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the U.S., presented to her by President Obama.