Florence Shilling McClure earned the nickname, "Hurricane Flo" because of her strength and relentless advocacy for women and children in Nevada. McClure is a co-founder of the Las Vegas organization, Community Action Against Rape, and she has also worked to improve conditions for incarcerated women in the state.
McClure was born on September 26, 1921. After World War II, she married James McClure, whose military career took the couple to temporary homes around the world until his retirement in the 1950s. The McClure family moved to Las Vegas in 1966 where Florence was hired to assist Burton Cohen, co-owner and general manager of the New Frontier Hotel and Casino. She later moved to the executive offices of the Desert Inn to work for Howard Hughes.
McClure began taking an active role in women's civic groups shortly after her arrival in Nevada. She was a co-founder of Soroptimist International of Greater Las Vegas and a state president of the League of Women Voters (LWV). It was in the LWV that she found a mentor in political activist Jean Ford. McClure also worked in the Nevada Women's Lobby.
In 1969, at the age of forty-eight, McClure decided to return to college. She enrolled at UNLV, earning her bachelor's degree in Sociology in 1971. Three years later, she and Sandra Petta founded Community Action Against Rape (CAAR)–a crisis counseling center initially based in the McClures' living room. In an April 2007 interview with the Las Vegas Review Journal, McClure pointed to the military as her inspiration, recalling how, as an officer's wife, she had angrily watched as rape victims were often ridiculed and their cases were routinely "dismissed."
McClure was the director of CAAR for twelve years. The agency provided assistance to victims of sexual assault when there were no other resources available in Las Vegas. In order to increase the sensitivity of those who dealt with rape victims, CAAR worked with the judicial system, law enforcement officers, medical practitioners, and victims' families. McClure argued successfully for the placement of rape kits in hospitals. She personally accompanied many rape survivors into the courtroom, in order to provide them with support.
In addition to her work with the victims of sexual violence, McClure played a significant role on the state level, lobbying for a change in the Nevada Revised Statutes that elevated spousal rape to the level of sexual assault. McClure's advocacy also resulted in laws that prevent rape victims from being questioned about previous sexual behavior. Because of her determination, CAAR, now known as the Rape Crisis Center, continues to be an important resource for women in Las Vegas.
McClure also worked to improve the lives of Nevada's female prisoners. She successfully lobbied to move the location of the women's prison from a planned rural site to Clark County, where a large number of the prisoners could be closer to their children. The proximity to a metropolitan center also allowed for greater access to supplemental services in education and training.
In order to honor McClure's many decades as a champion of women's causes, the 2007 session of the Nevada legislature passed a bill that will rename the Southern Nevada Correctional Facility, the Florence McClure Women's Correctional Center. McClure continues to advocate for the women and children of Nevada.
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