Charter Member of The Woman’s Club of Louisville
Mary was born near Lexington in 1840. She was educated at Maplewood Academy in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, an early female boarding school. In the 1850s she went to Europe to pursue advanced linguistics study.
Eventually moving to Louisville, she formed the Presbyterian Mission Society of Kentucky. In the late 1870s, she became the administrator of Louisville Presbyterian Orphans’ Home. In the 1880s, she was one of the leaders of the Free Kindergarten Movement, a supporter of the Kentucky Infirmary for Women and Children, and an officer in the Louisville Equal Rights Association.
In the 1890s she became a charter member of The Woman’s Club of Louisville. During that time she was actively involved in the founding of the Louisville Children’s Free Hospital (later Kosair Children’s Hospital / Norton Childrens' Hospital). It became the tenth pediatric hospital in the United States, the first in the South, and the first nondenominational hospital in Louisville. Lafon was the Hospital’s president from 1890 until 1918.
Always an advocate for women’s rights, she was a founder in 1900 of the Louisville Suffrage Association. As late as the 1920s, as an elderly woman, she was active with the League of Women Voters, movements to equalize marriage laws, child labor legislation, women voter registration, and government support for child health and public education.
-The Encyclopedia of Louisville