Lucie Braden Love Whitley, philanthropist and a first lady at East Texas State Teachers College (now Texas A&M University-Commerce), was born on March 25, 1880, in Tehuacana, Texas, to Robert Marshall Love (1847–1903) and Lucy Townes Morgan Love (1848–1909). Her father, Robert, served in the Confederate States Army and as state comptroller. Lucie had nine siblings and became a school teacher. She married Samuel Henry Whitley, a teacher, on December 27, 1904, and they had three children—Robert L. Whitley, Albert Portlen Whitley, and Mary Lou Whitley.
In 1910 the family lived in Corsicana, where Samuel Whitley was listed as a teacher in the 1910 census. In 1919 the Whitleys moved to Hunt County, and Samuel became registrar and dean of faculty at East Texas State Normal College. He became president of the school in 1924, and the Whitleys were the first of three of the university’s presidential families to live in Heritage House (the presidential residence). They moved in on December 27, 1927, shortly after the home’s completion.
Lucie Whitley was very passionate about genealogy and sought to find out more about her ancestry, specifically her father’s lineage. Her interest in her heritage most likely stemmed from her membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution, a service organization composed of direct female descendants of American Revolution veterans. Whitley was admitted into the DAR by way of her ancestral family surname Love, specifically through an ancestor named Joseph Love. In a letter from a distant Love relative who was also a DAR member, Lucie was praised for gathering information on the Love line for her children. She also worked with Mrs. Edythe Rucker Whitley in researching her lineage, indicating there was a possibility that their family lines may have crossed. Whitley’s interest in her heritage and cooperation in the DAR was supported by her family. Her DAR legacy lives on at Texas A&M University-Commerce in the form of the Lucie Love Whitley DAR Scholarship, which Whitley herself began with a donation of $1,000. The award is given to a female graduate of Commerce High School as selected by the local Capt. Charles Croxall Chapter of the DAR.
Whitley developed a friendship with Ruth Pennybacker, a notable University of Houston English professor who stayed with the family on occasion. Pennybacker thought very highly of Lucie, who met and entertained many people in her role as the spouse of the university president. Lucie Braden Love Whitley died on May 3, 1973, at age ninety-three in Commerce, Texas, and was buried there in Rosemound Cemetery.