Inventors are inspirational. Bette Nesmith Graham was an inventor, secretary then businesswoman, and a commercial artist. At times necessity brings invention and applying a concept from one field to another gives “birth” to the invention. This is the case of Bette’s invention of Liquid Paper.
Graham was born Bette Clair McMurray on March 23, 1924 in Dallas Texas. Raised in San Antonio she graduated from Alamo Heights High School and then went to secretarial school. In 1942, she married Warren Audrey Nesmith. He left to fight in World War II and she had their son Michael. They divorced in 1946 following his return. Her father died and she moved into a home that he had left the family with her mother, Michael, and her sister Yvonne. By 1951, she became executive secretary of Texas Bank and Trust.
At the time, secretaries had to retype whole pages if a mistake was made. Artists painting over mistakes gave her the idea to “paint” over mistakes so typing pages could be saved. She started experimenting with formulas and using her “paint out” at work. Other secretaries wanted to use it. In 1956, she began marketing her typewriter correction fluid as “Mistake Out”. Production started in her kitchen before moving to an outbuilding in her backyard. In 1958, she applied for a patent and trademark for what had become Liquid Paper. In 1962, she married Robert Graham and they ran the company together. By 1975, the company, Liquid Paper, had moved to a 35,000 sq. ft. building headquarters in Dallas. She divorced Robert Graham in 1975 as well. In 1979, she sold Liquid Paper to Gillette Corporation. Bette Nesmith Graham died in 1980.
Her son Michael, a founding member of the pop group The Monkees, inherited half of her estate. A portion established Gihon Foundation. The foundation established Council of Ideas, a think tank retreat center that was active until 2000. Spirituality, egalitarianism, and pragmatism were founding principles of her company and part of her legacy. Be inspired! Have a bright day!