Nina Lutz Combs conducted a good many meetings in her day --- as an organizer of the Iowa Division of the American Cancer Society, sponsor of Alpha Theta Chapter of Beta Sigma Phi, Lucas County chair of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis and leader of other civic and First United Methodist Church activities.
So it was kind of appropriate that she presided, in a way, at Tuesday's meeting of the Lucas County Historical Society board --- or at least this lovely portrait of her did, depicting her as she would have appeared at age 18. I didn't want board members to miss this recent addition to the museum collection, courtesy of six of her granddaughters.
According to her family, the portrait was commissioned from artist and illustrator Irwin Zeller by Nina's husband, D. Earl Combs, to hang in the Combs home at the intersection of South Eighth Street and Woodlawn Avenue in Chariton. After his death in 1966, the portrait passed to their daughter, Mary Kathryn "Kay" Callahan, and was displayed for many years in the Callahan home in Houston, Texas.
Nina, a daughter of Nicholas G. and Ida (Spurling) Lutz, was born at Bridgwater during 1888, but moved to Lucas County as a child with her family. She attended Chariton schools and Drake University, then taught for a few years before her marriage to D. Earl Combs on June 11, 1913, at Chariton's First Methodist Episcopal Church.
Nina's wedding dress, as well as several of her hats, arrived at the museum several years ago --- so I thought this description of her nuptial attire was kind of interesting: "The bride was attired in a handsome gown of ivory brocaded satin trimmed in real lace and pearls, with an embroidered tulle veil and a wreath of orange blossoms, and carried a shower bouquet of lillies of the valley and bride's roses."
Nina and D. Earl completed during 1930 the grand Tudor Revival house at South Eighth and Woodlawn that would be home for the remainder their lives. By then, he had formed the Combs Outdoor Advertising Companies, which would grow into the largest enterprise of its kind in Iowa.
Nina was only 66 when she died in a car crash near Red Oak in southwest Iowa during May of 1955. Her husband died nine years later, during 1964.
The portrait came home to Chariton earlier this year after the 2013 death of Kay (Combs) Callahan and her husband's decision to move from Texas to Florida to be nearer family. John Callahan died March 10, 2014, and his remains were returned to Lucas County for burial with Kay in the Chariton Cemetery.
Granddaughters who gave the portrait to the historical society were three of John and Kay Callahan's daughters, Kathryn Marie Callahan, Victoria Jo (Callahan) Steppy and Jeraldine Ann (Callahan) Depew; and three daughters of Nina's son, George Combs, and his wife, Lois (Ruddell) Combs --- Evelyn Ann (Combs) DeVeny, Patricia (Combs) Vredenburg and Trelawney Kay (Combs) Cully.