Ethel Claire Wood was born in Sandwich, Illinois, on March 27, 1882. Shortly after her birth, the family moved to Wahpeton, North Dakota. She graduated as valedictorian from Wahpeton High School in 1899. She next attended the University of North Dakota. Her first day at UND was her first day in Grand Forks. Being a complete stranger to the area, she asked directions of a young man picking up mail for UND at the train station. The young man happened to be Vilhjamur Stefansson, who would later become a famous polar explorer. Steffansson led her to President Merrifield’s office. Her freshman English teacher was Vernon P. Squires. A romance developed, and the two became engaged. Ethel graduated from UND in 1901 with a Teaching Certificate. She then taught fourth grade in the Devils Lake, North Dakota, school system until she married Vernon on July 9, 1902. Vernon Purinton Squires was born on November 4, 1866, in Cortland, New York. He received a B.A. from Brown University in 1889 and a M.A. from the University of Chicago in 1895. He joined the faculty of UND as an Assistant Professor of English in 1897. He was Dean of the College of Liberal Arts from 1915 until he died on August 16, 1930.
Ethel and Vernon Squires had two daughters, Emily and Hope, and four sons: J. Duane, Vernon, Alden and Donald. All but Donald graduated from UND. Ethel W. Squires contributed a message in honor of her husband for the 1933 Founder’s Day activities, which celebrated the 50 year history of UND. In 1964, she delivered remarks when Squires Hall was officially dedicated in memory of her husband. She was a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and Chapter D, P.E.O. Sisterhood.
Ethel W. Squires died in April 1977.