Ina Road (which should be pronounced Eena) is named in honor of the woman who homesteaded the area and was the first director of physical education for women at the University of Arizona.

Ina Gittings was born to Curtis and Emma (Thompson) Gittings in Wilber, Neb., in 1885. She earned a bachelor's degree in physical education from the University of Nebraska in 1906.

From graduation until 1916 she held various roles at the university, including physical education instructor, director of the women's gymnasium and chairwoman of the physical education department for women.

With World War I in full swing, she - like many other women - joined the U.S. Army medical department. She served as a physical therapist at Walter Reed Hospital.

In 1919, in the middle of Turkey's bloody crackdown on Armenia, called genocide by many, Gittings volunteered as a relief worker with the U.S. Near East Relief Organization, helping Armenian refugees.

She arrived in Tucson on Oct. 3, 1920, and five years later she received a master's degree from the University of Arizona, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She joined the faculty as the university's first director of physical education for women, a post she held until her retirement in the early 1950s.

During her stint at the UA, she introduced female students to such sports as horseback riding, swimming, archery and track, as well as team sports. In her career she served on many academic and civic committees, including the Women's Overseas League, Red Cross and the Arizona Education Society, and belonged to the Tucson Writers Club.

Gittings homesteaded about 480 acres of land between 1928 to 1932, about a mile and a half west of North Oracle on what is now West Ina Road. But she spent very little time there.

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She lived for a while at 1204 E. Helen St., near the university. Gittings died at St. Mary's Hospital in 1966. In 1985, the Ina Gittings Building at the UA was named in her honor.

Editor's note

Each week the Star tells the stories behind Tucson street names. If you have streets to suggest or stories to share, contact writer David Leighton at

Special thanks to Bruce Dinges of the Journal of Arizona History. Thanks to reader James Passannanti for suggesting Ina Road. Sources: Biographical Sketch written by Ina Gittings March 21, 1960 (Arizona Historical Society University of Arizona bio on Ina Gittings: "UA to Rename Building for Ina Gittings," Arizona Daily Star, April 1985 "UA Physical Ed Pioneer Dies," Arizona Daily Star, 1966