May Agness Hopkins, physician, was born in Austin, Texas, on August 18, 1883, the daughter of Eugene Pierce and Martha Houston (Mattingly) Hopkins. She grew up in Austin and graduated from the University of Texas in 1906. She then entered the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and received her medical degree in 1911. She was the only woman in her class. She completed her internship at the New England Hospital for Women and Children in Boston and her residency at Pennsylvania State Hospital. In 1912 Dr. Hopkins opened a practice in Dallas.
With the outbreak of World War I a few years later, she served in France with the Smith College unit of the Red Cross. In the summer of 1918 she led an evacuation of wounded Americans after the third German assault on Château-Thierry. This engagement occurred during the battle of the Marne, the first combat by American troops in the war. Hopkins was the only Texas woman doctor in the war and became a medical leader in the southern zone of France, based in Marseille. In addition to treating wounded soldiers, Hopkins assisted in establishing children's hospitals and providing care to repatriated children after the war.
After the war she returned to Dallas and resumed her pediatrics and endocrinology practice. She organized children's clinics, worked for a center for unwed mothers, became one of the first doctors to inspect milk for the city, served on the staff of Baylor Hospital, and taught at Baylor University College of Medicine until it moved from Dallas. Her professional memberships included the Dallas County Medical Society, the American Medical Women's Association, the American Medical Association, the Texas Medical Association, and the Southern Medical Association. She was also a national leader in Zeta Tau Alpha, a social sorority, the first president of the Lyceum Club in Dallas, and a member of the Federation of Business and Professional Women's Clubs and the Young Women's Christian Association.
May Hopkins continued her practice until shortly before her death in Dallas on May 30, 1972. Her funeral was held at St. Matthew's Episcopal Cathedral, where she was a member, and she was buried at Hillcrest Memorial Park. She was preceded in death by her husband, Howard E. Reitzel, whom she had married in 1927. She was survived by two nieces and one nephew.
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Dallas Morning News, May 31, 1972, April 10, 1983. Dallas Times Herald, April 8, 1956, May 31, 1972. Elizabeth York Enstam, "A Woman at War: May Agness Hopkins and the Battle of Château-Thierry," Legacies: A History Journal of Dallas and North Central Texas 4 (Spring 1992).
Health and Medicine
Physicians and Surgeons
Dallas/Fort Worth Region
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Debbie Mauldin Cottrell,
“Hopkins, May Agness,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 19, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
February 1, 1995
This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: