Remembering “Mom” Hearst

Mrs. George R. Hearst, Sr.

The United States Senate Youth Alumni Association was formed in tribute to its “mom,” the beloved Mrs. George R. Hearst, Sr. Her memory continues to inspire thousands of our members across the country and the world.

For almost 30 years, until she passed away in 1999, Rosalie Wynn Hearst adopted as a surrogate mother 3,848 high school seniors who were delegates to the United States Senate Youth Program, sponsored by the William Randolph Hearst Foundation.

The delegates traveled to Washington, D.C. each year, studied the American government up close for a week, and received scholarships from the foundation. Every year for the Week in Washington, Mrs. Hearst became the delegates’ mom. She greeted them the moment they arrived at the Mayflower Hotel, and she personally placed the immediate telephone call to their parents to report that the students had arrived safely.

She then attended the program with them, ate with them, spoke with them, and even partied with them. She learned their names. She came to know them, as well as their hopes, dreams, and ideas.

Like mothers everywhere, Mrs. Hearst did not lose touch with her kids when they left Washington. She made sure that every student knew how to reach her. Every single year she wrote to every former delegate she could keep track of. She and her devoted assistant Gladys Hundley (working for years with index cards, not computers) kept up with all of changes, moves, degrees, promotions, and even disappointments in the young lives of the former delegates. From time to time, she supported former delegates financially when there was a particularly acute educational need. Year after year, she remained a mother to them all.

As Mrs. Hearst’s health began to fail, she asked several former delegates (some of whom were no longer young themselves) to think about continuing her work. The United States Senate Youth Alumni Association (“USSYAA”) was born in 1999, and grew from this request. Fortunately, the Association began to organize before Mrs. Hearst’s passing, so she could see that her wish for the future would be accomplished.

The United States Senate Youth Alumni Association now counts more than 6,000 members, all former delegates or military mentors from the program’s Washington Week, held each spring in the nation’s capital.

Our members include United States senators, members of Congress, governors, federal judges, cabinet secretaries, candidates for president, business leaders, public officials, respected academics, prominent lawyers, and students from across the country, many of whom can trace their interest in government and politics back to the United States Senate Youth Program, and Mom Hearst.

For alumni who weren’t fortunate enough to meet Mrs. Hearst in Washington, we continue to honor her memory and mission.

The Mission of the United States Senate Youth Alumni Association was crafted specifically to continue Mrs. Hearst’s work. The USSYAA has three basic missions:
  • Building and maintaining avenues of communication among program alumni;
  • Providing financial assistance for professional educational needs of program alumni; and
  • Supporting the William Randolph Hearst Foundation’s United States Senate Youth Program.

In loving memory of Rosalie Mae Wynn Hearst
March 7, 1915 – October 22, 1999