Mary Daly, author of
"The Second Sex" died January 3, 2010 in
Mary's contributions to
feminist theology, philosophy, and theory were many, unique, and,
some say, world-changing.
Friends remember Mary Daly
intellectual space; she set the bar high. Even those who disagreed
with her are in her debt for the challengesshe
offered. She always advised us women to throw our lives as far as
they would go. I can say without fear of exaggeration that she lived
that way herself. May her spirit soar and her ideas endure. Mary E.
Hunt - Hoechenschwand, Germany
Her books, "The Church and the Second Sex" and
"Beyond God the Father" were powerful works that changed lives as
well as thought. She had a gift for wordplay and a wicked wit--one
of the funniest women I've ever met (she also had two Ph.D.'s). Her
Wickadery and her book Gyn/ecology are wonderful, as are her later
books. She was kind--made herself part of the group she was in, not
a star. She was insistent on defining and demanding women's space,
something that did not endear her to the priests at Boston College,
where she taught until she was 70 and where she drew students
internationally who wanted to study with her. Google her name and
enjoy. And say a prayer of thanks for her life. Nancy Whitt
Photograph by Gail
Bryan © 2006
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October 14, 1944 - January 8, 2010
A FOUNDER OF THE
NATIONAL WOMEN'S HISTORY PROJECT died January 8, 2010 at age 65 in
Sebastopol, California. Born in Fairfield, Iowa on October 14,1944,
she traveled extensively in her youth as part of a military
Mary was dedicated to women’s history and
feminism, changing her last name in 1981 to Ruthsdotter, a name she
created in honor of her mother Ruth Moyer. She infused her political
work with infectious enthusiasm, organizing an annual women’s
history parade in Santa Rosa in 1979 which grew to include school
marching bands and hundreds of participants.
While active on the
Commission on the Status of Women, Ruthsdotter organized the Women’s
Support Network, which sponsored the women’s history parades, as
well as Brown Bag Readers’ Theatre, Women’s Voices News Journal and,
for several years, the National Women’s History Project.
During her 15+ years
on the staff of the NWHP, she traveled around the country making
presentations, training teachers and lobbying for the inclusion of
women’s accomplishments into our nation’s history. The Project
designated National Women’s History Week in March, 1980, and
prevailed on President Ronald Reagan to place March as National
Women’s History Month on the US calendar.
retirement in 2004, she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. She
successfully fought and contained this disease, but developed
congestive heart failure in late 2009 and died suddenly.
Mary is survived by
her husband of 46 years, Dave Crawford, her mother Ruth Moyer, her
daughter Alice, son in law Geoff and grandsons Marcus and Ian, all
of Sydney Australia.
A memorial service and celebration of her life
is being planned for a future date. Donations in her memory can be
sent to the new National Women’s History Museum in Washington, DC.
National Women’s History Museum, Administrative Offices, 205 S.
Whiting Street Suite 254?Alexandria, VA 22304
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Lillian Kozak, ardent
leader in the fight for women's rights in marriage and divorce
passed away peacefully in her home on November 11, 2009. She would
have been 86 on Feburary of 2010. Lillian, an accountant and auditor
in the Nassau County Attorney’s Office, Family Court Bureau from
1977-2002, was chair of The National Organization for Women-New York
State Domestic Relations Task Force in 1975. Surveys show that the
number one reason women contact NOW is for issues related to
divorce. Lillian and the core of women she attracted to work with
the NOW Task Force were fierce in their determination to end the
impoverishment of women once they went through the legal process of
divorce. Her background gave her the skills to monitor technical
issues like laws covering joint bank (L-r) Paula Pace, Lillian
Kozak, Professor Andrew Schepard, and Professor Maria Volpe explored
the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution in domestic disputes.
(L-r) Paula Pace,
Lillian Kozak, Professor Andrew Schepard, and Professor Maria
Volpe explored the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution in
accounts, the hidden
drawbacks in equitable division of property and poorly drafted
divorce mediation agreements. Early on she warned that alternate
dispute resolution programs could put women at a disadvantage
economically or in cases of child custody and support. She advocated
not only for making domestic violence an element in any court
evaluation about the "best interests of the child" but also for
ending practices that resulted in fraudulent statements about
assets. Lillian received the Susan B. Anthony award of The National
Organization for Women-New York State, The National NOW Woman to
Woman Award, the Long Island NOW Lifetime Achievement Award, and the
Award for Lifetime Service from the Coalition for Family Justice. In
1994 VFA presented her with our Medal of Honor.
President of New York State NOW says: Lillian was one of a kind. She
gave her all to the cause of women's rights. I am forever grateful
to Lillian for teaching me so much about child custody and divorce
issues. Those are the issues that don't make the news so often, but
those are the issues that truly affect women's lives everyday. One
line that I always use to this day is one that Lillian taught me.
Whenever I would try to understand the motives of people (usually
abusive husbands/fathers) Lillian would use these words. She would
say "Marcia, remember the bottom line is green." How true that
statement is. I have repeated this phrase hundreds of times since
Lillian first stated it to me because it puts everything into
perspective. I will miss Lillian. She was a treasure.
VFA sends condolences
to her daughter Ellen Kozak of New York City. She was pre-deceased
by her son Jeffrey Kozak . For information on a Memorial Service,
please contact Ellen: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Alice S. Rossi,
Sociologist and Feminist Scholar, Dies at 87
November 9, 2009
VFA MOURNS THE PASSING
OF DR. ALICE ROSSI, noted sociologist, feminist scholar, a founder
of NOW and VFA's Feminist of the Month in August of this year.
Alice died on Tuesday
- November 9, 2009 - of pneumonia. She was 87 and lived in Amherst,
son, Peter, an economist at the University of Chicago, Alice is
survived by daughters Kristin Rossi of Keene, N.H., and Nina Rossi
of Turners Falls, Mass.; and six grandchildren.
Alice Rossi was VFA's
Feminist of the Month for August 2009.
Click here to read our tribute to Alice: ALICE
ROSSI, FEMINIST of MONTH AUG. '09
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Gerald (Gerry) Gardner, VFA Member, Social
Activist dies July 27, 2009
VFA MOURNS DEATH OF
GERALD (GERRY) GARDNER, one of the few active early-movement
feminist men and husband of Jo Ann Evansgardner. Gerry died of
leukemia on Saturday, July 27 in Pittsburgh at
the age of 83.
1968, Gerry and Jo Ann joined Pittsburgh NOW. Gerry served on the
national board for two years, was president and treasurer of First
Pittsburgh NOW and the volunteer offset-press operator for KNOW,
Inc., the first feminist publishing company founded and run for
several years by Jo Ann.
A geophysicist by profession, a mathematician
by training and a social activist by temperament, particularly about
women’s rights, Gerry taught at several universities, worked for
more than two decades for the Gulf Research and Development Company,
contributing to significant advances in applied seismology, or
methods for finding oil and natural gas deposits.
In 1969, Wilma Scott
Heide, Pittsburgh NOW president (and later president of national
NOW) filed a complaint with the Pittsburgh Commission on Human
Relations against The Pittsburgh Press. contending that the division
by sex of the paper’s employment ads — “Male Help Wanted” and
“Female Help Wanted” — amounted to discrimination against women.
Gerry provided the statistical underpinnings of what would be a
landmark Supreme Court case that resulted in the prohibition of sex
discrimination in newspaper want ads.
When the commission upheld the complaint, The
Pittsburgh Press took the commission to court, claiming the ruling
violated the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of the press.
The case went to the Supreme Court, whose ruling in 1973 effectively
forbade newspapers to carry sex-designated advertising for most job
Ellie Smeal, then a member of Pittsburgh NOW,
later president of national NOW and today president of The Feminist
Majority, says "What Gerry did was calculate the statistical chance
that a woman could get a job in one of the male categories….the
disparities just flabbergasted him. He contributed the hard
intellectual theory based on the math, and he made it
understandable, powerfully so.”
Born Gerald Henry Frazier Gardner on March
2,1926 in Tullamore, Ireland, Gerry studied mathematics and
theoretical physics at Trinity College in Dublin. Recruited by the
Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, he received his M.S.
in applied mathematics followed by a Ph.D. in mathematical physics
officer of First Pittsburgh NOW, he contributed to other legal
efforts, including a lawsuit brought in the mid-1970s by NOW and the
NAACP that resulted in the hiring of more women and blacks by the
Pittsburgh Police Department.
His only immediate survivor is his wife, who
long ago created her name as a hyphenless hybrid of Gerry's and
hers. They were married in 1950. Her husband was fired up by
principle, Jo Ann says. "He was an activist atheist, a proselytizing
atheist. That was important to him. He thought that not saying you
were an atheist hurt the cause of reality.”
VFA sends love and
support to Jo Ann. Her Gerry will be sorely missed, and all who knew
and admired him will cherish his memory and wish him bon voyage,
wherever his soul or essence went.
For More Info Contact
Jacqui Ceballos: email@example.com
Contact JoAnn Evans
Joan C. Steinberg
Joan C. Steinberg Neuwirth died , July 22,
2007, in New Brunswick,at age 77. Born in The Bronx, N.Y., she
,lived in East Brunswick for 36 years, before moving to Monroe, she
received a master's degree in education from Rutgers University, New
Brunswick. Prior to retiring in 1991, Joan was an educator for the
N.J. Division of Human Services, Trenton, for 20 years. She was
president of the National Organization for Women-NJ in the 1970s and
the East Brunswick Political Caucus, and served on the Brandeis
University National Women's Committee. She was a member of the East
Brunswick Board of Education from 1969 to 1972. In later years she
worked with AARP on issues relating to the elderly. Surviving are a
daughter, Marion Van Derveer, her husband, David, of East Brunswick;
and a brother, Charles Steinberg.
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passes away at 100
1977 The Alice Paul
Memorial March, Washington, D.C. Leading the march, from L to R:
Bella Abzug, Elizabeth Chittick, Hazel Hunkins Hallinan, Midge
Costanza. photo: Jo Freeman
The National Woman's Party
is saddened to report the loss of the former
president of the NWP, Elizabeth Chittick [1908-2009]. She was 100
Elizabeth Chittick was the first woman civilian
administrator of the U.S. Naval Air Station in Seattle, Washington
and in Banana River, Florida; the first woman registered
representative of the New York Stock Exchange; and the first woman
revenue collections officer with the Internal Revenue Service. An
unwavering advocate for the Equal Rights Amendment, she was the NWP
Chairman from 1971 to 1975 and the President from 1975 to 1989.
Under her leadership, the Sewall-Belmont House was declared a
National Historic Landmark and placed on the National Register of
In addition to her many great accomplishments,
Chittick was the author of "Answers to Questions About the Equal
Rights Amendment" and was a radio and television commentator on the
ERA. In 1977, she planned and led a parade of 5,000 people down
Pennsylvania Avenue in honor of Alice Paul. In 1978, she became the
first woman invited to speak to the House of Representatives in
Oklahoma. In 1975, she was a delegate to the International Woman's
Year conference in Mexico and, in 1985, the U.S. representative to
the Commission on the Status of Women at the World Woman's
Conference in Nairobi, Kenya.
Chittick was a great woman and an outstanding
advocate for women's equality. The Sewall-Belmont House and Museum
is honored to have, as part of their collection, a portrait on
display to help us honor her memory.
Ceballos for Further Details: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Marilyn French, Writer
and Feminist Activist, Died in Manhattan May 2, 2009 at age
Marilyn French in 1985. photo: Ruby
Washington/The New York Times
With steely views about the treatment of woman
and a gift for expressing them on the printed page, the feminist
author of The Women’s
Room was honored by VFA at our Writer’s Conference
in 2002. Born in Brooklyn on Nov. 21, 1929, Marilyn bristled at the
expectations of married women in the post-World War II era, decried
the patriarchal society and became a leading opinion-maker on gender
issues. “My goal in life is to change the entire social and economic
structure of Western civilization, to make it a feminist world,” she
Room,” her debut novel released in 1977, traces a
submissive housewife’s journey of self-discovery following her
divorce in the 1950s, describing the lives of Mira Ward and her
friends in graduate school at Harvard as they grow into independent
women. The book, taken partly from her own experience of leaving an
unhappy marriage and helping her daughter deal with the aftermath of
being raped, sold more than 20 million copies and was translated
into 20 languages.
Marilyn continued publishing on the common
theme of male subjugation of women, whether in Shakespeare's time or
modern history. “Men’s need to dominate women may be based in their
own sense of marginality or emptiness; we do not know its root, and
men are making no effort to discover it,” she wrote
in “The War Against
She had a novel scheduled for release this fall
and was working on a memoir at the time of her death from heart
failure. Her most significant work in recent years was the
four-volume “From Eve to Dawn: A
History of Women,” published by Feminist Press and built around
the premise that prevailing histories had denied women their past,
present and future. She is survived by her son, Robert, of East
Brunswick, NJ, and daughter, Jamie of Cambridge,
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ERA HERO FLORA CRATER
OF "CRATER'S RAIDERS"
FLORA CRATER, the quiet, unassuming ERA
activist who led a group of women known as Crater's Raiders to lobby
Congress for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment has left us.
Flora would have been 95 on April 19th.
Born Flora Trimmer, in Costa Rica, she married
James Crater and they raised their family in Falls Church, Virginia.
From early adulthood she was involved in civil rights issues.
Just a few of her many
accomplishments: She convened the Northern Virginia chapter of NOW;
was a vice president of the Fairfax County League of Women Voters;
served as coordinator of the Virginia Women's Political Caucus;
served as action coordinator of the Virginia Women's Network and as
vice chair on the Virginia Equal Rights Amendment Ratification
Council after the ERA was sent to the states. In 1978 she ran for
the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.
Among the numerous
honors she received were VFA's medal of honor and the Distinguished
Alumni Award from George Mason University where she received her BA
in Government and Politics at the age of 67. Flora's papers are
archived at the University of Virginia Library in Charlottesville,
Virginia, and some of her memorabilia are in The Smithsonian.
James Crater died in
1982 and Flora is survived by their three children: Walter James,
Horace William and Vivian Albertina Gray; four grandchildren and six
When Flora was born women did not have the
right to vote and segregation was entrenched, but at last she was
able to vote for a woman for President (in the party primary) and
for an African-American for President (in the general election).
Before she died she asked that contributions made in her memory go
to the Alice Paul Institute, ERA Education project, P.O. Box 1376,
Mt. Laurel, NJ 08054.
For more information, contact her daughter,
Vivian Gray (9 Yorkridge Trail, Hockessin, DE 19707; 302-235-0621;
cell 302-547-9780; email@example.com).
Constance Eberhardt Cook,
who helped legalize abortion in New York and compel Episcopalians to
ordain women before becoming the first female executive at Cornell
University, died Tuesday, February 3, 2009 at her home in Ithaca.
She was 89.
Connie announced in 1962 she would run for the New York State
Assembly, local leaders felt a woman could not win in Tompkins
County. Yet she beat all four of her opponents in the primary and
won the general election in November. She served 14 years. In1970,
she sponsored what became known as the “Connie Cook” law to repeal
state anti-abortion laws and to provide for legal, on-demand
abortions during the first 24 weeks of pregnancy. After a bitter
legislative debate, abortion became legal in New York by a one-vote
margin three years before the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision
made it legal nationwide.
She earned her law degree at Cornell in 1943
and in 1976 became the University's vice president for land grant
affairs, a position she held until 1980. She was an especially
powerful advocate for women and the needy.
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Author of "The Best
Kept Secret," published by Prentice-Hall in 1980, and the first
feminist theorist to call the sexual abuse of children a political
and patriarchal issue, died on Tuesday, December 9, at her home in
Manhattan, just short of her ninety-first birthday. The cause was
congestive heart failure. A Bronx-born psychiatric social worker and
community activist in New Rochelle who was married with three grown
joined a chapter of Older Women's Liberation (OWL) in 1970 and
subsequently found an apartment for herself in Greenwich Village.
She electrified a New York Radical Feminist Conference on Rape in
April 1971, winning a standing ovation for her speech on what was
then a startling new concept. The Rush theory, inspired by evidence
she had collected in a facility for delinquent girls, identified
fathers, stepfathers, older brothers, uncles, neighbors and family
friends as the major sexual abusers of children, and traced the
toleration of such abuse to the beginnings of history and
cultural/religious customs. Family abuse had been ignored by the
reigning Freudian psychologists of the day who preferred to theorize
about seductive children and girlish fantasies. A wealth of books on
child sexual abuse written by academics, journalists, and
celebrities followed Rush's pioneering papers and lectures, while
personal accounts were to become a staple on television talk shows.
younger son, Matthew, was stricken by AIDS in the mid-1980s, she
formed one of the first mothers' support groups in the nation. A
lecturer for Women Against Pornography in its early years, she later
worked with New York NOW, the National Organization for Women, on
its "Images of Children in the Media" committee, and enjoyed a
weekly poker game with neighbors and friends until failing health
curtailed her activities. She is survived by her son, Dr. Thomas
Rush of Katonah, a specialist in infectious diseases, her daughter,
Eleanor Rush Pushkar of Oakland, California, and two grandchildren.
She also leaves a network of friends who warmly recall her gracious
hospitality in New York and Fire Island, and will never forget her
brilliant, original mind, her singular contribution to feminist
theory, her nurturing advice and aid, her impossible platform shoes,
and her baked lasagna.
writer, and feminist activist died November 1, 2008 in NYC at age
84. A woman of many talents and accomplishments, she was probably
best known for promoting the recognition of women's jazz band blues.
She was the first to produce women's blues/jazz concerts for the
Newport Jazz Festival, and produced concerts at Carnegie Hall and
the Hollywood Bowl.
In 1980 she launched
Rosetta Records. The company reissued historic works of jazzwomen
and, in the "Women's Heritage " and "Foremothers Series," produced
13 recordings of individual artists and thematic anthologies,
including the popular Railroad and Jailhouse Blues. Rosetta's
efforts insured a place for women's music in the future study of
jazz history and introduced it to new audiences. Alice Walker was
inspired by Rosetta's records while working on "The Color Purple,"
and the Bessie Smith postage stamp was issued in 1994 due to
Rosetta's persistent efforts. At the time of her death, she was
working on a book about the blues women.
Rosetta's love of music began in her teen years
in Utica, New York. After college she moved to NYC, took a job and
spent spare time listening to jazz on 52nd St. She married Robert
Reitz, had three daughters. She later divorced and raised the girls
other love was food. For four years she wrote the food column for
the Village Voice; she wrote "Where To Go In Greenwich Village" (for
good food), taught The Geography of Food at the New School, and in
1965 published a cookbook, “Mushroom Cookery.”
In 1972 she joined the
New York Radical Feminists and was a founding member of OWL (Older
Women's Liberation). She facilitated workshops and was a speaker on
issues re-examining attitudes about menopause. She researched and in
1977 wrote "Menopause: A Positive Approach,” a Book-of-the-Month
choice that remained in print for 20 years.
Rosetta is survived by
her daughters Robin of Tucson, Arizona, Rebecca and Rainbow, both of
NYC, her son-in-law Sidney Gribetz, and a granddaughter, Hannah Rose
Gribetz. Her daughters invite
Rosetta's friends to celebrate her life Sunday November 9th between
2:00 and 6:00 pm at her home, 115 West 16th Street, apt. 267.
Contact Rebreitz@aol.com for more
In Memory of Lila Karp,
" . . . that your stern
death broke in upon us, darkly,
the till-then from the ever-since—
concerns us: setting it all in order
task we have continually before us. . . ."
Rilke, from "Requiem for a
The announcement has
gone out. Many of you have read about it on our web site or heard
from friends that our beloved B.A. teacher Lila Karp died on Monday,
September 15, of cancer. Lila had a wide and passionate following
among our students and alumni as well as faculty and staff. And for
all of us who are left grieving this loss, may it be known that one
of the most radiant lights in the B.A. orbit has gone out, though
her sparks remain in the many students and friends she inspired with
her brilliance and in the works that endure.
One of those works is
her novel, The Queen is in the
Garbage, originally published in 1969 and reissued
last year by The Feminist Press in their Classic Feminist Writers
Series. Despite the struggle with her illness, Lila gave readings in
New York and Los Angeles, including a book party the B.A. Program
hosted at Antioch in August 2007. Scores of Lila's long-time friends
and admirers attending this event were treated to a sampling of
Lila's gifts as a creative writer in a type of fiction that she
pioneered, a woman's autobiographical story of coming to awareness
of her marginalized status in the world and courageous struggle to
throw off the shackles. The 1970s saw a floodtide of such stories,
but Lila's novel was among the first that hit a nerve for its
firebrand challenge to the sexist status quo.
Lila wrote this book
while living in London in the 1960s where she teamed up with
avant-garde artists and intellectuals and plunged into a life-long
engagement with the works of Simone de Beauvoir, in particular
The Second Sex. When she returned to
New York in 1969, it was Beauvoir's prescient statement of the
social construction of gender – "One is not born, but rather
becomes, a woman" – that drew Lila into the early cadre of feminist
theoreticians and activists who called themselves The Feminists:
Kate Millet, Flo Kennedy, Ti-Grace Atkinson, Margo Jefferson, Lila
Karp. A documentary film SOME AMERICAN
FEMINISTS, made in 1977 for the National Canadian Film
Board, captures Lila and her fellow revolutionaries delivering
speeches and manifestoes during those heady years when overthrowing
the patriarchy seemed within our grasp. In 2006 a profile of Lila
appeared in the book Feminists Who Changed
During the 1970s, Lila turned her pioneering
energy on the field of women's studies, which was then in its
infancy. Armed with an M.S. degree in Education from Syracuse and
rich practitioner experience, she received an appointment as
visiting professor in 1971 at Bryn Mawr College where she taught
their first women's literature course at a time when such courses
were first being introduced into college curricula. At the State
University of New York at New Paltz, she offered a course on the
sociology of women's literature. At SUNY and at Princeton, where she
served as director of the University Women's Center, Lila fought
against entrenched interests to advocate for programs in Women's
Studies, as she describes in her paper, "Women's Studies: Fear and
Loathing in the Ivy League," delivered at the National Women's
Studies Association meeting in 1979.
Transplanted to southern California in the
1980s, Lila continued to teach in Women's Studies Programs at
California State University at Northridge and at the University of
Southern California. In 1991 she was appointed co-director of The
Institute for the Study of Women and Men at U.S.C. The courses and
workshops Lila taught in the B.A. Program dating back to Spring 1988
included, among others, Transforming Literature into Film: Women
Novelists and the Male Cinematic Gaze; Simone de Beauvoir: Life and
Works; Psychology of Women in Literature and Film; Feminism and
Existentialism. After earning her M.A. in Clinical Psychology at
Antioch in 1996 and beginning her private practice as a feminist
psychotherapist, Lila began teaching Existentialism, Psychotherapy,
and Irvin Yalom; Bibliotherapy; The Psychology of Aging as Viewed
Through a Literary Lens; and other psychology courses. Lila's
students invariably responded to her teaching and her courses with
superlatives because she challenged and stretched them in ways that
left them transformed. That Lila could be ferocious in demanding
that students think for themselves was part of her legend and her
decided to offer a set of courses in Summer 2008 commemorating the
40th anniversary of the summer of 1968, there was no question but
that Lila would be invited to teach a workshop on the History of the
American Feminist Movement that she herself embodied. This workshop,
which took place on July 19, turned out to be Lila's farewell
appearance at Antioch, for which she rallied herself brilliantly by
all accounts. It now seems sadly perfect that Lila completed her
teaching career at Antioch by sharing her story of a movement that
forged her identity and the activism for which she will long be
will be an official event to celebrate the life of Lila Karp, but we
don't yet know exactly when it will take place as those closest to
Lila are still processing the shock and grief. As details emerge, an
announcement will be posted on campus and on our web site. In the
meantime, our heartfelt sympathy goes out to Renos Mandis, Lila's
longtime companion with whom she shared a beautiful and enduring
bond. And finally to our cherished Lila, who loved literature as I
do, here are the words Prospero spoke to the sprite Arial in the
moment of his release from earthly bondage: "Then to the elements be
free, and fare thou well."
In sadness and mourning,
B.A. in Liberal Studies
I have sweet memories of the beautiful young
Lila and her handsome Renos from the early years in New York, with
Kate Millett and Fumio. We met again in 2006 when we honored Lila
and other pioneer feminists in Los Angeles and immediately bonded.
It was as though we'd always been close. From then on we exhanged
mails often. A day or so before she died she emailed,."I'm still
here." Well, she is...and always be with us, wherever she is! Jacqui
VFA SADLY ANNOUNCES THE PASSING OF
AN ICONIC LEADER IN THE FEMINIST, GAY, BISEXUAL
AND TRANSGENDER COMMUNITY August 27, 2008
Del Martin—a pioneer in the gay rights
movement, the co-founder in 1955 of the Daughters of Bilitis, one of
the first lesbian-rights organizations in the country/world—died
today at 87. Martin married her partner of 55 years, Phyllis Lyon,
in California on June 16, 2008, the day that same-sex marriage
became legal in that state. (Martin: left in photo.)
“Today the LGBT
movement lost a real hero,” Kate Kendell, Executive Director of the
National Center for Lesbian Rights, said in a statement released
moments ago. “Her last act of public activism was her most
personal—marrying the love of her life after 55 years. In the wake
of losing her, we recognize with heightened clarity the most
poignant and responsible way to honor her legacy is to preserve the
right of marriage for same-sex couples, thereby providing the
dignity and respect that Del and Phyllis’ love deserved.”
Our sympathies go out
to Mrs. Martin’s widow.
Evelyn Lucille Fike,
pioneer feminist, died of heart failure on April 1, 2008 at her
home in Baton Rouge. She was 83.
Born Jan. 29, 1925 in Stanwood, Iowa, Evelyn
was a resident of Baton Rouge for 46 years. Active in women's
rights, she worked quietly with other businesswomen to improve the
status of women in the work world. Because women were given little
or no air time on television, she and another woman called on the
manager of every TV an radio station and asked a commitment of five
minutes air time a week to women's events. Only one manager agreed
to cooperate, but it did begin to raise awareness.
The first woman
featured on the cover of the Baton Rouge Business Report, Evelyn was
honored on several occasions for her work in women's rights. She was
a very early president of Capital Area Network, an organization
formed by local businesswomen because Rotary, Kiwanis and similar
organizations would not accept women as members. She was also active
in and served as president or on the boards of several organizations
such League of Women Voters and the American Business Women's
survived by husband Thomas; daughters Jana Murray and Sandra Murray
Clifford and husband Michael Clifford, four stepchildren and eleven
grandchildren. Evelyn was a true friend and mentor, and her memory
lives on with many a result of her kind deeds for so
JEAN WITTER, EARLY ERA
ADVOCATE, DIES AT 80
Jean Witter, one of the first presidents of
Pittsburgh NOW, died of lung cancer on June 25, 2008 in Pittsburgh.
She was 80.
1970’s when the campaign for the ERA was running out of time, Jean
wrote a legal opinion saying Congress could change the ratification
period as long as the original time limit hadn't been written into
the language of the amendment itself. That became the basis for
Congress's three-year extension of the ERA ratification deadline,
and eventually it was used by Congress to extend the deadline three
more years. Even though the campaign fell short in 1982, some
women's rights advocates believe her legal work could still be used
today to help achieve passage of the gender-equality amendment.
Two years after
heading the ERA campaign Jean joined fellow Pittsburgh NOW leader,
the late Wilma Scott Heide, in disrupting a Senate hearing on the
constitutional amendment that would give 18-year-olds the vote. They
stood in the gallery with signs promoting the ERA instead.
From 1967 to 1987,
Jean Witter was one of the most active members of NOW. A brilliant
woman, she was quiet, unassuming and much loved, and as involved in
small matters that affected women as she was with major issues such
as ERA and Title VII. In 1994, concerned that VFA was named VFW,
Veteran Feminists of Feminist Wars, she called to warn us that VFA
could be sued from here to kingdom come by the Veterans of Foreign
by her husband DuWayne, Jean is survived by sons Ray and David, four
grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Actress Peg Murray
(left) showing Dolores Alexander pictures of her years on
Alexander died May 13th in Florida. In 1966, Dolores
Alexander was working as a reporter for Newsday. She had received a
press release announcing the formation of a new organization
dedicated to promoting equal rights for women. As a woman who faced
daily discrimination in the male-dominated newspaper business, Ms.
Alexander was immediately interested. She picked up her phone and
called the contact person on the release: Betty Friedan. The call
was the start of a lifelong commitment to the women's rights
joined NOW and enlisted every woman at Newsday, including her
lifelong friend, Ivy Bottini and was Betty Friedan's right hand for
born a feminist," Ms. Alexander said. "How could I not be?" Growing
up in a traditional, Italian-American Catholic home during the '40s
and '50s, from her earliest days she bristled at the restrictions
imposed on girls. "I don't remember feeling anything but
second-class and less valuable because I was female," recalled the
soft-spoken Southold resident.
So she immersed herself in the task of getting
the fledgling NOW -- originally conceived as an NAACP for women --
off the ground, working in the trenches with Ms. Friedan, whom she
described as "brilliant but difficult," and the other feminists who
shaped the direction of a movement.
Barbara Seaman, born
September 11, 1935; died February 27, 2008
Posted February 27, 2008 | 04:00 PM (EST)
This post first appeared on
I came to New York City in 1993, age 22, to
take an internship at Ms. magazine. Within a few months, I was asked
to fact-check a profile of Barbara Seaman, a pioneer in the women's
health movement on the 25th anniversary of the publication of her
classic The Doctor's Case Against the Pill. I called her and three
hours later got off the phone a changed person. She had answered my
fact-checking queries, but then peppered me with friendly questions:
Who was I? What was my background? Was I interested in health? Was I
on the Pill? Did I know Mary Howell? No, I really must meet her. Was
I working on a book? I was clearly smart, she could tell by our
conversation. Did I want to attend a gathering with her at Erica
Jong's house? I really must meet Erica.
questions and opportunities went on and on. I was flummoxed by her
interest and offers -- didn't she know that I was just a lowly
assistant (by that time) at Ms.? Did she have me confused with
someone else? I had ambitions, sure, but I was far away from
admitting I wanted to write a book -- I just wanted the cool Ms.
editors to learn my name.
Barbara continued to fax and call me at Ms.,
providing me with endless history, important contacts, and
insightful analysis. She goaded me to get to know the feminists who
she felt were being forgotten by history -- women like Cindy Cisler
(perhaps the most significant philosopher in the push to legalize
abortion) or Dr. Mary Howell (the first woman to become a Dean at
Harvard Medical School). She organized intergenerational gatherings
in 1994 where I first met Leora Tanenbaum and Jennifer Gonnerman,
who were my same age and who also began to think (with more than a
little nudging from Barbara, I presume) that they would write books.
(Leora went on to write Slut, Catfight, and Taking Back God; Jen
wrote Life On the Outside.) Barbara asked me to introduce her at a
party for her held in a gorgeous penthouse, saying, "I'd love it if
you said a few words, Jen. Then Katie Couric will probably say a few
things." She did introduce me to Erica Jong -- and Alix Kates
Shulman, Margot Adler, Shere Hite, and countless others who adored
Over the years, I gradually became to see
myself the way Barbara presented me: smart, fearless, important,
deserving to be in those rooms. And she became, despite our 35-year
age difference, one of my best friends. She came to my birthday
parties in 6th floor East Village walk-ups (the only person over 35
there), read my manuscripts at the drop of a hat, picked up the
phone at midnight to talk, babysat my son, and pushed me to
publicize my books using "The Jackie Susann philosophy." Barbara
wrote Lovely Me, the biography -- definitive and scintillating -- of
Jacqueline Susann, author of Valley of the Dolls). Jackie's whole
thing is that no one will sell your book for you -- you have to get
out there, give donuts to the truck drivers that deliver your books,
remember the names of the bookstore workers in Peoria, and do the
interview conducted by the 12-year-old with the ham radio. Barbara
admired Jackie and agreed -- nobody is going to give women anything
much, so go out there and build your powerful
Thinking about Barbara, I realize that she was
a one-woman social networking site. She remembered everyone she had
ever met and tried to connect them with everybody else she had ever
met. She recalled where you were from, whom you dated, your health
problems, and your writings or accomplishments and then she
introduced to people who you should know. She was incredibly
generous -- if you needed something, she called everyone in her huge
circle to try to help you, be it a review, a deal, a place to live,
a referral for an abortion, or tickets to Kiki and Herb. I'm not
even mentioning all of the incredible things she did to change the
world and save thousands of lives, which are all on her Wikipedia
entry, because I'm overcome by all she did to change my world.
Suffice it to say, she was really someone.
Barbara died of lung cancer this morning,
having kept it to herself and been Barbara -- funny, lovely,
brilliant -- for the last eight months, finishing two books (both
written with a young collaborator, Laura Eldridge) and getting her
papers ready for Harvard's archive before she became too
Given the heroic effort she made to finish two
books in spite of her dire diagnosis, I bought her new books the
moment I learned I was losing her. Her sales spiked on Amazon
(others bought them, too) right before she passed, and I know that
Barbara would be thrilled about that.
REMEMBERING BARBARA SEAMAN: JOAN
I was at the very
touching memorial on March 6 celebrating the life of our much-loved
Barbara Seaman, who died on February 27 much too young at 72. The
huge room in the chapel was packed tight with hundreds women and men
to mourn and celebrate her generosity of spirit, her sharing, her
lifelong determination to have women be knowledgeable about their
stunned at her death; hardly anybody had known she was ill. There
were many loving speeches, some long, some short, some sad, some
even funny. Her daughters Shira and Elana had a tough time holding
back tears as they spoke of how "our mother" had shown them what
good mothering was. Her grandson Liam exhibited remarkable poise and
humor as he reminisced about his grandmother's last days. Yet I
think particularly moving was the address by Barbara's son Noah, who
talked about the little things in their lives together. What follows
is a poignant part of his talk. Goodbye Barbara, I miss you. Joan
Barbara's Son Noah
"My mother was diagnosed with lung cancer last
April, and after her operation in June we knew she did not have much
time left. We visited five oncologists, each with a different
recommendation for treatment: #1: first chemo, then radiation. #2:
first radiation, then chemo. #3: chemo and radiation simultaneously.
#4: radiation, no chemo. #5: chemo, no radiation. My mom decided
that with lung cancer she was not likely to gain much time with
treatment, but she risked becoming quickly debilitated. And she had
a lot of work to do, finishing the books she was writing and sending
out her papers to Harvard. Her goal was to have as much productive
time as possible. Not the attitude of a lax lady.
She and I had a good final year together, and
she had a strong seven months post-surgery. She told very few people
about the cancer as she clearly did not want to be treated as a sick
person. She wanted people to relate to her as they always had for as
long as possible.
After the surgery I slept on the couch so I
could hear her if she needed anything, but for months it was she
would be the one to get up at night to make sure I had a blanket.
Only her last two-and-a-half weeks were really
bad. On the final night that she was able to leave her bed, we
watched a videotape of Yip Harburg performing his own songs and some
old tapes of her adorable granddaughters when they were young. She
was beaming. It was a moment that, had the universe been obliging,
it would have paused and not forced us to move on to the upcoming
On her last night of lucidity, she was very
weak and grasping for words. I mentioned that the Academy Awards was
on. She turned to the hospice worker and asked "What film did you
vote for?" He said he hadn't seen any of the movies and asked which
film she hoped would win. She was having a great deal of trouble
speaking, so I was tempted to answer for her as I knew that There
Will Be Blood was one of her favorite films in many years. I will be
forever grateful that I held my tongue, as she paused a beat and
said Heaven Can Wait. At that moment I was in total awe of her.
As the years go by I'll no doubt still be
hearing her advice, her jokes, her complaints about injustice and
her reminders to take my vitamins."
VFA Mourns Loss of Judith
Her Spirit Lives
December 14, 2007
After a long battle with cancer, Judith Meuli
died Friday, December 14th, at her home in Los Angeles; she was 69
years old. Jude was born and raised in Chippewah Falls, Wisconsin,
and received a B.A. in Zoology and Chemistry from the University of
Minnesota. She moved to Los Angeles in 1963 where she met Toni
Carabillo who was her partner until Toni's death. The two helped
changed the face of the city.
An integral part of the backbone of the women's
movement's Second Wave Jude was a leader of NOW from the time she
joined in 1967. She served on the National NOW board from 1971-1977,
was coordinator of the Hollywood NOW chapter in 1976, and later was
president of Los Angeles NOW. The co-editor of NOW's national
newsletter/newspaper for 15 years, Jude then founded the
Feminist Majority with Eleanor Smeal,
Toni Carabillo, Peg Yorkin, and Katherine Spillar, and worked there
until her death.
Also a writer, Jude co-authored
The Feminization of
Power and The Feminist
Chronicles, a detailed history of the modern women's
movement. She co-founded the Women's Heritage Corporation, a
publishing company that produced the Women's Heritage Calendar and
Almanac and a series of paperbacks on such figures as Elizabeth Cady
Stanton and Lucy Stone. A graphic designer, she formed
Communications, which produces and distributes books,
newspapers, political buttons, and pins and designed many of the
symbols and logos of the women's movement, including VFA's medal of
estate developer, Jude designed and constructed a building to house
the media center and archives for the Feminist
Majority and recently made the first six-figure
donation to the new capital campaign that will, in part, build a
permanent home for the national NOW Action Center. She also recently
donated a treasure trove of feminist history to the Schlesinger Library at Harvard's Radcliffe
Institute, which also houses NOW's papers.
Judith was a staunch
supporter of VFA and a member of the
national board since VFA's beginning. At a May 2006 event to honor
Los Angeles-area pioneer feminists, VFA presented her with a special
citation, the Trailblazer
Award. The VFA board and membership sends
condolences to her family, her partner Stephanie Palmer, and to all
her friends. She was much loved, and will be sorely
A celebration of her
life will be held at the Feminist Majority's office in Beverly Hills
on January 19, 2008 at 11:00 a.m.
For more tributes to Judith, please visit the
Judith Meuli Website at judithmeuli.com
If you wish to share
your thoughts with us, contact Jacqui Ceballos at:
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ALLIE HIXSON, DYNAMIC FIGHTER FOR THE ERA,
Hixson, Dr. Allie Corbin Ph.D. May 28, 1924 -
October 30, 2007 Allie was born into a farming family in southern
Kentucky but at 18 made her way to Louisville where she met the love
of her life, William Forrest Hixson (Bill). They recently celebrated
62 years of marriage. In addition to mothering, homemaking and
teaching in the Louisville public schools, Allie continued to pursue
her education, earning a PhD. Allie and Bill retired early to their
farm and Allie became a feminist activist traveling the world as she
worked to improve the lives of women everywhere.
Her most cherished endeavor was the continuing
battle for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to ensure full
constitutional recognition and protection from second class
citizenship for all women. A natural orator, Allie held many
offices, won many awards and recognitions and her picture hangs in
the Rotunda of the Kentucky Capitol as a Notable Kentucky Woman.
Allie and Bill recently relocated to live with their daughter Emma
Hixson and her partner, Catalina Salas, in Minneapolis. In addition
to Bill, Emma and Catalina, Allie is survived by sons, Clarence and
Walter; daughter-in-law Kandy; grandchildren, Maiza, Jon and Chloe
Hixson and Ashley and Keith Ahlborn. Allie was pre-deceased by
brothers, Elvin and Trip Corbin and sisters, May Corbin and
Christine Morgan. She is survived by sisters, Minnie Rubarts, Cylina
(Buford) Zink; brother, Alfred B. Corbin and sisters- in-law, Mary
Lou Clotfelter (Beryl) and Judi Corbin.
Allie was a remarkable spirited and loving
woman who will be grieved and remembered by her family and friends.
A memorial service will be held in Louisville at a later date.
Published in the Star
Tribune on 11/4/2007.
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Lorraine Rothman, one of the greatest and most
innovative heros of the Second Wave health movement, died on
September 25, 2007 of complications stemming from bladder cancer.
Born in San Francisco
in 1932 Lorraine, pioneer in the abortion movement and inventor of
the Del'Em menstrual extractor, went on to co-found with Carol
Downer the Gyn Self-Help Clinics and Feminist Women's Health Centers
in Los Angeles and Santa Ana, and helped influence the Supreme
Court’s decision to approve abortion. A California State professor,
author of several women's health books and citizen activist, she is
survived by children Murray, Kenneth, Theresa and Andrea and six
Memorial services are being planned. Check
back; we'll keep you up to date as we get the
Richard Graham, Equal
Rights Leader, Dies at 86
New York Times
Published: October 8,
Richard A. Graham, an original member of the
federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission who was moved to
help found the National Organization for Women by what he saw as the
commission’s intransigence on sex-discrimination issues, died on
Sept. 24 at his home in Royal Oak, Md. He was 86.
Mr. Graham died after
suffering a stroke several days earlier, his daughter Nan Graham
At the time a Republican, Mr. Graham was one of
the inaugural group of five commissioners appointed by President
Lyndon B. Johnson to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in
1965. Born out of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the commission was
created to address issues of discrimination in the workplace.
As Mr. Graham would
later say in interviews, he quickly came to feel that while the
commission was willing to tackle issues of race discrimination, it
concerned itself far less with those of sex discrimination, despite
the inclusion in the Civil Rights Act of Title VII, which
specifically prohibited employment discrimination on the basis of
race, color, national origin, religion or sex.
Among the issues on
which Mr. Graham worked in 1965 was an effort to abolish sex-based
employment advertisements — the “Help Wanted, Male” and “Help
Wanted, Female” notices that were a familiar presence in newspapers
of the day. The commission as a whole, however, declined to impose
such a ban. (In 1968, the E.E.O.C. ruled that sex-segregated job
advertising was illegal in most cases.)
NOW was founded in 1966 by more than two dozen
people, including Mr. Graham, who was its first vice president.
In news accounts of
the founding Mr. Graham was said to have quietly told several of the
organization’s founders, among them Betty Friedan, that to truly
advance the cause of gender equality, American women would need a
political lobby on a par with the N.A.A.C.P. That year, Mr. Graham,
who was not reappointed to another term with the employment
commission, became the first director of the National Teacher Corps,
a program created to bring schoolteachers to depressed areas of the
Alton Graham was born on Nov. 6, 1920, in Chicago, and reared in
Lima, Ohio, and Milwaukee. He earned a bachelor’s degree in
engineering from Cornell in 1942, and during World War II served
with the Army Air Forces in Iran.
After the war, Mr. Graham joined his father in
developing and manufacturing a variable-speed drive transmission for
electric motors, which was used, the younger Mr. Graham later said,
“in everything from food processing to printing to mechanical
Richard Graham entered public service, becoming a deputy to R.
Sargent Shriver, the first director of the Peace Corps. From 1963 to
1965, Mr. Graham was the Peace Corps’ director in Tunisia. A 1963
article in The New York Times about the Tunisia program noted Mr.
Graham’s concern that his volunteers’ living conditions not be too
soft: he moved them out of modern apartments into less opulent local
quarters among the people they were serving.
Mr. Graham earned a master’s degree in
education from Catholic University in 1970, followed by a Ph.D. in
philosophy from what was then the Union Graduate School. (It is now
the Union Institute and University.)
In the mid-1970s, he directed the Center for
Moral Education, which had been founded at the Harvard Graduate
School of Education by the distinguished psychologist Lawrence
Kohlberg. From 1975 to 1976, Mr. Graham was president of Goddard
College, in Plainfield, Vt., where he helped found the
Goddard-Cambridge Center for Social Change, which included a program
in women’s studies.
From the mid-1980s until his death, Mr. Graham
was an adviser to the Council for Research in Values and Philosophy,
an organization based in Washington that promotes cross-cultural
Besides his daughter, Nan, of Manhattan, Mr.
Graham is survived by his wife, Nancy Aring Graham, whom he married
in 1949; another daughter, Peggy Sue Graham (known as Busy) of Royal
Oak; three sons, Charles (known as Hoey), of Moscow, Idaho; Dick, of
Laguna Beach, Calif.; and John, of Potomac, Md.; a brother, Robert,
of Simms, Tex.; a sister, Sue Graham Mingus, the widow of the jazz
bassist Charles Mingus, of Manhattan; 13 grandchildren; and 2
Mr. Graham, who was a Democrat from the late
1960s on, was sometimes publicly critical of NOW in recent years,
faulting what he saw as its emphasis on abortion rights and equality
for lesbians at the expense of more general issues like child care
and health care.
But in 1991, reflecting on the improved status
of American women since the 1960s, Mr. Graham told Newsday, “There
is pleasure in having been part of the change.”
December of 1933 -
March 22, 2007
A leader in the second
wave of the women's movement
Dr. Cathryn Adamsky, born in December of 1933,
a leader in the second wave of the women's movement died on March
22, 2007 of Parkinson's Disease. Cathryn, who was honored by VFA at
the Sewall Belmont House in Washington, DC in April , 2002, was an
activist for feminist causes and university women's studies
programs. Passionate in her determination for women's equality , she
opened students' eyes to different ways to look at society and
earned the love of countless students over the years. Always
treating people with respect, with no regard for status, class or
position, Cathryn worked indefatigably to make the world a better
place for women and children.
Born in Auburn, Massachusetts,of working class
immigrants ,Cathryn grew up believing in the promise of America. Her
mother's dream was that her six children would graduate from high
school. Kay, as she was then known, was captain of the high school
basketball team and graduated from Auburn High School with honors.
After graduating with high honors from Clark University in
Worcester, Massachusetts, she married Peter K. Levison in 1955. She
received a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Rochester in
1959 and held a post-doctoral fellowship at Yale University. From
1968 to 1971, she was an Assistant Professor in the Department of
Psychiatry at the University of Chicago.
She was an Assistant and then Associate
Professor of Psychology at Indiana-Purdue University at Fort Wayne
(IPFW), Indiana, from 1971 to 1981. During this time she was a
founding member of the National Women's Studies Association and the
Association for Women in Psychology. In 1980, honor students voted
her the highest recognition for stimulating academic interest in the
School of Science and Humanities at IPFW. She also founded the
Women's Studies Program at Indiana-Purdue University and formed a
committee of faculty and people from the community to develop a
Women's Studies Program . She recruited associate faculty from the
community to teach the early classes, whose syllabi were developed
by the committee. The connection she made between the university and
the community at large became a model for other women's studies
programs. IPFW in Fort Wayne became the first state university to
offer a major in Women's Studies. During her tenure at IPFW, she was
instrumental in the foundation of the Fort Wayne Feminists, an
organization still active. The FWF set up a "Cathryn Adamsky Women
in Need Fund" in her honor.
Cathryn was Coordinator of Women's Studies
(1981-1987; 1989-1991) at the University of New Hampshire (UNH),
where she taught from 1981 until her retirement in 1996. In addition
to a teaching award presented by honor students at UNH, she was
awarded the UNH President's Commission on the Status of Women Award,
presented by the late Bella Abzug, for outstanding contributions to
the status of women at the University of New Hampshire, 1985.
She published many
papers and participated in workshops and presentations on feminist
transformation of curricula, sexism and language, and sex
differentiation in early infancy, and served on the editorial board
of Women's Studies, An Interdisciplinary Journal from 1973 to 1982.
She was Project Director for the film, True Light, The Life of
Marilla Ricker, first woman lawyer in New Hampshire and first woman
to run for governor in the state. As Director of the National
Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institutes on Women in
Nineteenth-Century American Culture held in 1987 and 1989 at UNH,
she inspired some 90 secondary English and social studies teachers
to re-think how and what they taught. Here again, Cathryn steadily
and quietly empowered people to insist that women be given equal
opportunity and recognition.
In 1975, Cathryn began spending summers at her
cottage at Tom Leighton Point in Milbridge, Maine, where she
cherished the solitude and beauty of the peninsula and welcomed her
family and friends there. Her daughters, Deborah Levison of
Minneapolis and Lara Levison of Washington, D.C., and granddaughter,
Antonia Levison Ritter of Minneapolis survive her.
Memorials may be made to the Cathryn Adamsky
Women in Need Fund (checks to CAWINF) of the Fort Wayne Feminists,
4307 Miranda Drive, Fort Wayne IN 46816. Memories of Cathryn are
welcomed by her daughters (c/o LaraLevison@comcast.net). Memorial services
are planned for Portsmouth, New Hampshire (contact Liz Whaley,
603-659-2518), and Fort Wayne, Indiana (contact Joan D. Uebelhoer,
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Joy Simonson, 1919 - 2007
Joy Rosenheim Simonson, breaker of barricades
for women, has died
Joy Simonson died in Washington of pnemonia on
June 24 at the age of 88. Born Joy Rosenheim, she was a mover and
shaker in our nation's capitol.
Joy Simonson died in
Washington of pneumonia on June 24 at the age of 88. Born Joy
Rosenheim in New York City, she graduated from Bryn Mawr College and
moved to Washington in the 1940s. In 1945, she worked for the U.N.
Relief and Rehabilitation Administration in Egypt and Yugoslavia,
then as a civilian for Army headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany until
1948, when she and her husband returned to
She was in her sixties when she began her
career as a feminist activist. "She knew how to set a goal and
achieve it," said Diana Zuckerman, president of the National
Research Center for Women & Families, which gave Joy it's
Foremothers Award in 2005. "She was one of the women who have broken
down every barrier there was for women of my
Joy was executive director of the National
Advisory Council on Women's Educational Programs until the Reagan
Administration took over in 1982. She was fired and her replacement
was a substitute schoolteacher who quickly proposed to abolish the
council. Women's groups protested, and in a speech on the House
floor, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) denounced the "purge" of Ms.
Simonson, then hired her as a staff member of the House Government
Operations subcommittee on employment and housing, where she worked
on the condition that she could have Fridays off for her weekly
tennis game. She was there until 1985.
She was a past president of the Washington
chapter of the League of Women Voters and vice president of the DC
Home Rule Committee. In 1967, she organized the DC Commission for
Women and served on it for almost 15 years. In 1970, she helped set
up what is now the National Association of Commissions for Women and
served three terms as president. She was a three-term president of
the Clearinghouse on Women's Issues and a member of the National
Council of Women's Organizations, which protested the exclusion of
women from the Augusta National Golf Club which sponsors the Masters
A member of the commission on the International
Women's Year and a delegate to the 1977 National Women's Conference
in Houston, Joy also attended the U.N. women's conferences in
Copenhagen in 1980 and Nairobi in 1985. She served two terms on the
national board of OWL, and in 1992 was elected to the DC Women's
Hall of Fame.
She made the news when, in 1994, a Washington
Post reporter caught her, then 75 years old, skating on the
Reflecting Pool on the Mall. She also loved to travel and visited 52
countries. Her husband, Richard, died in 1998. Surviving are three
children, Kenneth of Washington, Donald of Darnestown, Maryland and
Karen of Los Angeles, a brother and five
VFA honored Joy in 2000 at the Sewall Belmont
House. She came to every event we had in DC, and last year she
called me to see if there was space for her at our November 13 New
York event at Columbia. I told her "Sure, we'll make room for you!"
And there she was, all 98 pounds of her, rushing in just in time to
catch the opening discussion and was there all day. She was thrilled
to be included in Feminists Who Changed America. A book could be
written about Joy; she was something else. We'll sure miss her.
We'll sure miss her.
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Dr. Eleanor Schetlin's
Long Island NOW (National Organization For
Women) members, friends, associates, and family of the late Dr.
Eleanor Schetlin (1920-2007) are invited to a National Women's Day
celebration honoring her and other veteran feminists, to be held on
Saturday, August 25, 2007 from 2 to 4 PM at the home of East End NOW
President Marilyn Fitterman, 66 Hildreth Place, East Hampton,
In 1985 Dr. Schetlin won the prestigious
S.U.N.Y. State-Wide Chancellor's Award for Excellence in
Professional Service. Schetlin worked in higher education for 42
years, writing numerous articles for professional journals while at
the same time being generous in her support of political causes,
especially abortion rights for women and equal rights for
minorities. Upon her retirement as Associate Dean and Director of
Student Services at SUNY Stony Brook, Dr. Schetlin left behind many
dear friends. The quiet joy she took in helping people is a legacy
that will never be forgotten.
The celebration will include refreshments,
short readings and tales from friends, a tribute by Marilyn
Fitterman, and a musical interlude of some of Eleanor and other
veteran feminists' favorite songs by feminist singer Sandy Rapp.
Feel free to bring
friends but PLEASE
RSVP with an idea of how many you'll bring.
Call at 631-329-0593 or email responses to
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Philosopher of Modern-Day
Her Spirit Lives On
February 4, 2001
Betty Friedan, whose manifesto "The Feminine
Mystique" became a best seller in the 1960s and laid the groundwork
for the modern feminist movement, died Saturday - February 4, 2001,
her birthday. She was 85. Friedan died at her home of congestive
heart failure, according to a cousin, Emily
Friedan's assertion in
her 1963 best seller that having a husband and babies was not
everything and that women should aspire to separate identities as
individuals, was highly unusual, if not revolutionary, just after
the baby and suburban booms of the Eisenhower era.The feminine
mystique, she said, was a phony bill of goods society sold to women
that left them unfulfilled, suffering from "the problem that has no
name" and seeking a solution in tranquilizers and
"A woman has got to be able to say, and not
feel guilty, `Who am I, and what do I want out of life?' She mustn't
feel selfish and neurotic if she wants goals of her own, outside of
husband and children," Friedan said.
In the racial, political and sexual conflicts
of the 1960s and '70s, Friedan's was one of the most commanding
voices and recognizable presences in the women's movement. As a
founder and first president of the National Organization for Women
in 1966, she staked out positions that seemed extreme at the time on
such issues as abortion, sex-neutral help-wanted ads, equal pay,
promotion opportunities and maternity leave.
But at the same time, Friedan insisted that the
women's movement had to remain in the American mainstream, that men
had to be accepted as allies and that the family should not be
"Don't get into the bra-burning, anti-man,
politics-of-orgasm school," Friedan told a college audience in 1970.
To more radical and lesbian feminists, Friedan was "hopelessly
bourgeois," Susan Brownmiller wrote at the time. Friedan, deeply
opposed to "equating feminism with lesbianism," conceded later that
she had been "very square" and uncomfortable about
"I wrote a whole book objecting to the
definition of women only in sexual relation to men. I would not
exchange that for a definition of women only in sexual relation to
women," she said. Nonetheless she was a seconder for a resolution on
protecting lesbian rights at the National Women's Conference in
Houston in 1977.
"For a great many women, choosing motherhood
makes motherhood itself a liberating choice," she told an
interviewer two decades later. But she added that this should not be
a reason for conflict with "other feminists who are maybe more
austere, or choose to seek their partners among other
By then in her 70s, Friedan had moved on to the
issue of how society views and treats its elderly. She said that
while researching her last book, "The Fountain of Age," published in
1993, she found those who dealt with old people "talk about the aged
with the same patronizing, `compassionate' denial of their
personhood that was heard when the experts talked about women 20
years ago." She had not stopped being a feminist, she said, "but
women as a special separate interest group are not my concern any
Friedan, born Feb. 4, 1921, in Peoria,
Illinois, was a high achieving Jewish outsider growing up in middle
America. Her father, Harry Goldstein, owned a jewelry store; her
mother, Miriam, quit a job as a newspaper women's page editor to
become a housewife. As a girl, Friedan watched her mother "cut down
my father because she had no place to channel her terrific energies,
a typical female disorder that I call impotent rage," she said. From
high school valedictorian in 1938 to summa cum laude graduate of
Smith College in 1942, "I was thast girl with all A's and I wanted
boys worse than anything," she said. She won a fellowship in
psychology to the University of California, Berkeley, but turned
down a bigger fellowship there so as not to outdo a boyfriend.
The romance broke up anyway and Friedan moved
to Greenwich Village in New York and became a labor
She lost one job to a returning World War II
veteran but found another before marrying Carl Friedan, a
summer-stock producer and later an advertising executive, in 1947.
The marriage, which produced three children, ended in divorce 22
years later. Friedan got a maternity leave to have her first child
in 1949, but was fired and replaced by a man when she asked for
another leave to have the second child five years later. The family
had moved to a big Victorian house in the suburban Rockland County
village of Grandview-on-the-Hudson, New York, where Friedan cranked
out freelance magazine articles while bringing up her brood. Hoping
to get a magazine piece out of a Smith College 15-year reunion,
Friedan prepared an in-depth survey of her
What she found was that these well-educated
women of the class of 1942, now largely suburban housewives, were
asking, in effect, "Is this all?" Friedan couldn't get the article
published in a magazine, but five years of more research and writing
turned it into "The Feminine Mystique."
If some women read it as a call to arms, others
were outraged, Friedan recalled. Dinner invitations stopped; she was
out of the school car pool. But the first printing of 3,000
eventually grew to 600,000 copies hardcover and more than 2 million
in paperback. The book was listed at No. 37 on a 1999 New York
University survey of 100 examples of the best journalism of the
In 1964, the family moved back to Manhattan in
1964 and Friedan began working to have the federal government
enforce the Civil Rights Act as it applied to sex and not only to
race, religion and national origin. Founding NOW was a response to
federal inaction. The finale of Friedan's presidency was the
national women's strike of August 1970, which brought women out
across the country on the 50th anniversary of women's suffrage. She
also was a founder in 1968 of the National Conference for Repeal of
Abortion Laws, which became the National Abortion Rights Action
League, and of the National Women's Political Caucus in 1971. During
the following decade she taught and lectured, and her 1981 book,
"The Second Stage," was seen by many as a public break with the
feminist leadership that had succeeded her. She said they had
pursued "sexual politics that distorted the sense of priorities of
the women's movement during the 1970s," and had opened the way for
conservatives and reactionaries to occupy the center on family
Friedan taught on both coasts, at New York
University and the University of Southern California, lecturing
widely and traveling to women's conferences around the globe. She
helped persuade the Democratic Party to give women half the delegate
strength at its nominating convention and was herself a delegate
when Geraldine Ferraro was nominated for vice president in 1984. She
lived in New York City and Washington, D.C., and had a summer house
in Sag Harbor, New York.
"I knew she was
dying... still I wasn't prepared for the shock and sorrow I feel.
This is the woman who saved my life when I thought I had no life to
save -- The woman who took what many of us felt in our guts for
years and expressed it in words that the whole world could
understand. She could have rested on her laurels, but she helped
found NOW, the first feminist organization since the suffragist
movement, and when her term was over she led a national strike-- and
overnight a small group of activists became a mass
She was always one or
more steps ahead of us --She knew what was needed to get things done
and had the talent and hutspah to do it! She saw the need for a
special organization to focus on politics, and was key in the
founding of the National Women's Political
She turned women on
around the country -- starting NOW chapters by the wave of a hand. A
woman called from anywhere for whatever reason, and she'd name them
the convenor a local chapter that didn't yet exist! .She'd never let
us forget that men are not the enemy. They are our allies, she'd
say.. and the feminist movement will benefit them as much as it will
us. It was my privilege and honor to work closely with Betty for
several years ... and it was because of her and all the great women
she got to come out of their kitchens and low level jobs to help
make the movement that the Veteran Feminists of America was founded,
and will continue to serve veterans of all future feminist
campaigns. Our Betty is dead, but what she did will live on in the
hearts of millions. And so will the movement, until there is
complete equality between women and men. Thank you , dear Betty, for
everything you've done! You are truly the most important person of
the 20th century! We will miss you, but your legacy lives
forever!" Jacqui Ceballos
Very sad. We will all
miss her, and yet we will always have
her-who-opened-our-eyes. Barbara Seaman
I just heard on the
radio when I got back from shopping this PM that Betty
died - on her birthday . .What a great and
meaningful life she had.
In Memoriam: Betty
Honoring Groundbreaking Author, a
NOW Founder and First President
February 4, 2006
Today the National
Organization for Women (NOW) and the nation celebrate the life and
legacy of Betty Friedan, one of the founders of NOW and the modern
women's rights movement.
"Freidan wrote The
Feminine Mystique in 1963, and it opened women's eyes," said NOW
President Kim Gandy. "Betty recognized a longing in the women of her
generation, a longing for something more — opportunity, recognition,
fulfillment, success, a chance to live their own dreams beyond the
narrow definition of 'womanhood' that had limited their lives."
In June, 1966, Betty
Friedan and 27 other women and men founded NOW, which has grown into
the United States' largest feminist organization. Later that year
she was elected NOW's first president, and her fame as an author
helped attract hundreds of thousands of women to the new
organization. Friedan and Dr. Pauli Murray co-authored NOW's
original Statement of Purpose, which began, "The purpose of NOW is
to take action to bring women into full participation in the
mainstream of American society now, exercising all the privileges
and responsibilities thereof in truly equal partnership with
NOW's president from 1966 to 1970. During that time we lobbied the
federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to enforce laws
against sex discrimination in employment, and to ban ads that were
segregated by sex. We forced airlines to change their policies that
permitted only female flight attendants, and required them to resign
once they married or turned 32. And in a key achievement, NOW
convinced President Johnson to sign an Executive Order barring sex
discrimination by federal contractors. In 1968, NOW became the first
national organization to endorse the legalization of abortion.
Gandy remembers that
time: "Betty led NOW through those first few turbulent years after
our founding in 1966, when we were challenging every orthodoxy about
what it meant to be a woman — about what it would mean to have
control over your own body and your own life, and not be limited by
other peoples' stereotypes."
Latifa Lyles, elected a national Vice President
of NOW last year at age 29, says of Friedan,"The movement that was
sparked by The Feminine Mystique continues today to inspire women of
my generation to take action to achieve full equality."
The organization she
led celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Gandy says, "She
sparked a movement that is larger and stronger than ever — made up
of women who expect equality and equal opportunity for ourselves and
our daughters, and the men who stand with us."
MORE TRIBUTES for BETTY
Betty Friedan's legacy
|Betty Friedan Died
February 7, 2006
She could walk down an aisle
In the middle of a meeting
All heads turned
She would talk and gesture
Make some of us mad
Catch our hearts
Inflame our minds
We all followed her
To the next door
We would batter
To the next barrier we would break
Late feminist shaped the women's movement
Washington Post Writers Group
BOSTON - This is what
I remembered when the news of Betty Friedan's death on her 85th
birthday came over the Internet. I remembered Aug. 26, 1970, the
Women's Strike for Equality. I remembered Betty Friedan parading
down New York's Fifth Avenue, in the front row, with tens of
thousands of exhilarated women behind her.
I also remembered the afternoon edition of my
paper illustrating that march with two front-page photos. On the
left was the pretty, blonde, smiling figurehead of some unknown
group of Happy Homemakers. On the right was Betty Friedan, mouth
open in mid-shout, face contorted, as unattractive a photo of this
woman as was ever chosen by any editor.
Under both pictures ran a simple, loaded
question asking readers: Which one do you choose?
This came to mind not only because Friedan won
her place in the history books. It reminded me of exactly what this
passionate and irascible, strong-willed and difficult woman was up
against: a culture with prescribed roles for women and harsh ways of
slapping down those who didn't conform.
Betty Friedan, author and agitator, most
assuredly did not conform. Not to Peoria, where she grew up. Not to
suburbia, where she raised her children. Not even, always, to
She was born the year after suffrage passed.
Her book, the Book, "The Feminine Mystique" was published in 1963,
the year that Adlai Stevenson told my graduating class at Radcliffe
how important our education would be in raising our children. It was
released to paperback and fame in 1964, the year I worked in the
sex-segregated research pool at Newsweek magazine - and thought I
was lucky to have the job.
It's easy to forget now what it was like back
then before Betty named "the problem that had no name" and, in
futurist Alvin Toffler's words, "pulled the trigger on history." We
know how far women have come, but for every woman who believes life
has improved, there is another who believes that life has become
more stressful. Some of us believe both things at the same
The women's movement is sometimes treated as a
vast propaganda machine that convinced women of their discontent and
need for change. But Friedan's book struck a chord with women who
were already fine-tuned to listen.
"It was a strange stirring," she wrote, "a
sense of dissatisfaction, a yearning that women suffered in the
middle of the twentieth century in the United States. Each suburban
wife struggled with it alone. As she made the beds, shopped for
groceries, matched slipcover material, ate peanut butter sandwiches
with her children, chauffeured Cub Scouts and Brownies, lay beside
her husband at night - she was afraid to ask even of herself the
silent question - 'Is this all?'"
The most powerful catalyst for change,
sociologists will tell you, is when people learn what they already
know. Friedan didn't invent the discontented housewife. She
described the discontent. She didn't create the second-class
citizenship. She analyzed it.
"Maybe it wasn't education that was the
problem," she said, "keeping American women from 'adjusting to their
role as women,' but that narrow definition of 'the role of
For combating the mystique, she was shunned by
neighbors. For her refusal to conform, her kids were kicked out of
the car pool. She was called "more of a threat to the United States
than the Russians." But with one resounding click of recognition,
with one page turned after another, women who thought they were "the
only one" came out of isolation and into a women's movement in the
widest sense of that word.
Betty was dismissed as radical by the middle
class and as middle class by the radicals. She helped found the
National Organization for Women, the National Women's Political
Caucus and NARAL. But she didn't brook fools easily nor did she
brook disagreements gracefully. She teetered on high heels and gave
speeches that never ended. The battles with her feminist peers were
For as long as she lived, women would come up
to Betty gushing, "You changed my life." More than once, I saw her
dismiss them summarily with a wave of her hand, "Oh, people tell me
that all the time."
Today "Desperate Housewives" is a television
show. Mothers at home still bristle at her description of their
"dissatisfaction." Four decades later we have mommy wars and
arguments about educated women "opting out" of work. Women in
Fortune 500 companies can also ask "Is this all?"
But no one can doubt her role in this
unfinished revolution. Betty Friedan put her shoulder and her mind
to the task of opening doors and widening that "narrow definition of
'the role of women.'"
In gratitude for that fine discontent, for that
refusal to conform, let me say it one last time: Betty, you changed
For more, please visit the Ellen Goodman
Good-bye, Betty Friedan
By the time I got to
college, The Feminine Mystique, the book that told women everywhere
to denounce housework, was my homework.
After Plato and Socrates and Freud, my college
"intro to politics" class taught De Beauvoir, Friedan and
Betty Friedan attended my college, Smith, about
5 decades before me. Okay, she was a really, really famous alum, but
still, someone from another generation. Her best-selling book hadn't
rocked my world. It was a reading assignment. To my
nineteen-year-old self, she didn't have the cachet of Gloria
Steinem, going undercover as a Playboy bunny to denounce Hugh
Hefner, or coining the ground-breaking term "Ms." And she lacked the
philosophical hauteur of De Beauvoir. What could she say that I
didn't already know: I wasn't planning to marry, move to the burbs
and vacuum in heels. I was skeptical that I would learn anything new
from someone so old school.
Not that I was a stranger to the feminist
movement -- far from it. I was raised by a single mom, marched for
choice and faced sexist remarks by clueless boys. I knew my mom
hadn't been allowed to wear pants to school and that birth control
was illegal in many states when she was in college. Not to mention
So when I finally cracked open the Friedan
bible, I wasn't prepared to find religion. Without even knowing it,
I had benefited from the bomb she dropped in those 400-some pages
about 50s housewives (including her) who had everything yet felt
they had nothing. She called it the problem without a
The book hit a chord with so many women that it
launched the second wave of feminism. And all I had done so far was
surf it. Because of The Feminine Mystique, inspired by a survey she
took at her 15th college reunion, I can search job listings no
longer listed (or limited) by sex, make an appointment with a woman
doctor, and vote for a woman governor. The changes inspired from her
rebel yell are so far-reaching and yet so everyday, it's difficult
to imagine how life would look without her. Still, I needed a
Which makes it even more maddening to read the
New York Times cover story about women in college now who have
conveniently forgotten their Friedan lesson. Or maybe they skipped
class that day? They proclaim they prefer to stay at home and ape
the 50s image of the perfect housewife and mother, when behind the
veneer, there was nothing perfect about it at all. It was perfectly
dreadful. It's an image that assumes anachronistic gender roles. And
makes assumptions about marriage that neither men nor women should
accept. It's rewriting history by ignoring it entirely. It is
"opting out" when now is the time to opt in.
Shrug off the responsibility to claim
leadership and the vacuum will be filled by those only too happy to
take it away. Betty Friedan's mantle should be carried on, not
trampled at will. Or we'll look around and the image of the 50s will
be all we have left. The Feminine Mystique raised a major problem
with the social fabric of this country. The discussion is hardly
over. But whichever way the culture wars go, rest assured that Betty
Friedan is part of the canon. Back when my politics professor
introduced Friedan's work, she told our class, "I don't know what it
is about this place, maybe it's the water that breeds feminist
thought." Whatever it was, I was glad to have the drink.
As a 28 year old, single, female, tired of her
"day to day" job, I feel unsettled about my future. What is my
purpose in life? Am I destined to a life of Excel spreadsheets and
answering e-mails? Is a concern that echo's through my mind. As a
graduate of the University of Michigan, my four years of development
and growth seem like a dream. I keep on having re-occurring
nightmares that I failed high school, when in fact I have graduated
Trying to find my niche in this world has not
been easy. No class or books seem to have prepared me for the
reality of a 9:00 am- 7:00 pm job. Am I stuck in the mundane life
that I swore I would avoid? Well, it took a cold January afternoon
for me to learn that my fears of purpose and direction lay behind my
immediate hold. There was a bigger picture. It began as I was
walking out of a non-descript deli on the Upper East Side, I came
face to face with Betty Freidan. Like a Yoda figure, she was
climbing over a pile of snow holding a cane on one hand and a middle
aged man for support on the other.
"Are you Betty Friedan?" I
asked. She gazed at me and nodded "yes", yet I still could not
believe it was her. Here was a legend, a super hero, not a person
who eats her lunch at a deli on a cold winter afternoon. My gut
instinct was just to help her. She had helped me and millions of
other women by pioneering the National Women's Movement.
As I assisted Ms.
Friedan into the deli (her son went to park his car), I could not
believe what was transpiring. A couple minutes later a burst of air
and energy swept threw the room as entered two more pioneers that
Betty had known. Their reunion began to unfold in front of my eyes.
"Please join us" one of the women, later to be know as Jaqui
Ceballos suggested. As I explained that I was an aspiring writer,
aspiring being key.
"Well, then you must come along to Mary Jean
Tully's memorial service. That is why we are here," stated Jaqui
heard the name Mary Jean Tully. I was hoping she was not in the
chapter I had skipped over during my Feminist Movement class five
years back. That would be bad luck.
Mary Jean, as I later came to learn was the
women behind the scenes, the women who made things happen. Mary
Jean, brought to the Feminist Movements the connections and money
that was needed to implement real change. A Democrat at heart, she
had real passion toward her cause and always got the job done. She
was we would call a true feminist, using her gifts and determination
to better the world.
As Gloria Stiem read at Mary Jean Tully's
memorial service:"She will always be a
symbol not only of a Movement pioneer, but also of something that
lies at the heart of this Movement: women being kind to each other,
being kind to themselves; overcoming differences; finding daily
pleasures together; building very personal and nurturing networks
without which a movement is nothing but paper and
A friend sent me a quotation on the occasion of
David's death (David is Gloria Stiem's husband had had recently
passed away.) I want to share it with you and share it with Mary
Jean. It's by Iris Origo, an American who lived in Italy during
World War II, and who lost both her son and her husband in that war.
"It is very easy on
this subject to become sentimental or wooly, or to say more than
one really means. I think I am only trying to say something very
simple, that my own personal experience has given me a vivid sense
of the continuity of love, even after death, and it has also left
me believing that life is a partnership not only between those who
are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead,
and those who are yet to be born. Not only are we not alone, but
we are not living only in a brave and chilly now. We are
irrevocably bound to the past" and though the picture is less
clear, to the future. It is this feeling that has made death seem
to me not less painful, never that " but not, perhaps, so very
important, and has caused affection in its various forms to be the
guiding thread of my life." I know that Mary Jean's memory will
bring out in us this affection for each other, regardless of
personal or political difference" and so she will be with us
The notion of the individual became less
important. Yes, ones needs are important, but they do not transpire
into something great unless they give back and are a part of
something bigger then themselves. Truth lies in the power of the
group, when individuals come together to overcome causes.
We are of a society
that creates individuals who are supposed to encompass great powers,
movie stars and politicians that we look to for answers. When the
truth is bigger than one.
On a cold afternoon, the Veterans of NOW showed
me how they made meaning out of life. By working together to bring
equal rights to women. Through Mary Jean Tully's Memorial (death), I
had come to see the world from a different perceptive, through the
eyes of a group. Gloria, Jacqui, Mary Jean and Betty all had the
power and determination to make the world a better place. When they
came together they made change.
My question of purpose and existence could
never be fulfilled if I kept on thinking of me, myself. The
Pro-Choice rally is just as much about life as choice.
To have the choice to
march and be a part of a group is where we find meaning. Purpose
does not come from one, but from the whole.
Sharon Bridlord: firstname.lastname@example.org
top of page
CLARA ORESKES de MIHA
In 1968 a grandmotherly
ÈmigrÈ from Ukraine came to a New York NOW meeting. A disillusioned
former fellow traveler (Communist sympathizer), Clara de Miha was
attracted to the new feminist movement as she was to every crusade
in support of freedom. As founder of the Jeanette Rankin Brigade,
she led a march of 5,000 in DC against the Vietnam War in 1968. She
participated in the Miss America protest in 1969, joined NY NOW and
was a board member in 1971 and 1972.
Clara (pictured 2nd left, behind ERA banner)
co-edited the NOW York
Times in 1971 and The Feminist Times in 1972 and was a
delegate to the 1975 UN conference on women. She worked fiercely for
passage of the ERA; when the State ERA was defeated, Clara's
determination served as a model for us all. While most feminists
were stunned into inactivity, she called a meeting to figure out
what went wrong and what could be done to resuscitate it.
Clara departed this
life in 1977, asking her young friends to keep in touch with her son
and daughter-in-law, Erwin and Susan Oreskes, whom she honored for
giving her four wonderful grandchildren: Michael, Daniel, Naomi and
previously deputy managing editor of The New York Times, is now executive
editor of the International Herald
Tribune; Daniel is an actor who has appeared in many
TV episodes including "Law and Order" and "The Sopranos." Naomi is
Professor of History and Science Studies at the University of
California, San Diego, and Rebecca a wildlife preservationist. To
top it all, Irwin and Susan are lifetime members of VFA, which must
surely be giving Clara the abundance of nachas (proud pleasure) she
BETTY BERRY, LEADER OF
CHANGE IN ANTIQUATED DIVORCE LAWS, DIES
VFA founding member, Betty Berry died in
Pompano Beach, FL, on Feb 8, 2007 at the age of
Born Eleanor Betty Blaisdell in Providence,
Rhode Island, on October 6, 1922, Betty graduated from Smith College
in 1944 with a degree in Economics. She later married, then divorced
Robert G. Berry and attended NYU where she earned a Master's Degree
in Fine Arts. While there she wrote a research paper on divorce and
its economic effects on the dependent spouse and became devoted to
changing the outdated pro-man divorce laws.
She joined the young NYC NOW chapter where she
headed the first Marriage and Divorce Committee. Visitors sitting in
on a meeting were astounded at the calmness Betty exhibited while
dealing with the desperate women going through the horrors of a
pre-1975 divorce. But her really important work was lobbying
lawyers, legislators and politicians for changes in the laws.
She wrote NOW's
position papers on Marriage and Divorce and Marriage as a Career,
and spoke widely on those subjects. In 1974 she founded the Marriage
and Divorce Press and, with her companion, the late Admiral Edwin
Dexter, published the first newsletter for laypeople on the subject.
In addition to writing and editing, Betty worked for laws concerning
marriage, tax deductions for childcare expenses, compulsory
financial disclosure and equitable division of property. Social
Security benefits for homemakers and divorced persons, continued
health insurance as well as equal division of property and
compulsory payroll deductions for child support also came under her
banner. From 1968 to 1973 she was national coordinator of the NOW
marriage and family relations task force.
Before her NOW work
Betty had been an economist for the Rockefeller family projects and
traveled throughout the Middle East and North Africa completing
research assignments in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, and Lebanon. She
later served as executive director of the Industrial Designers
Society of America, and in 1987 as director of public relations for
the American Arbitration Association.
Betty's third career in historic preservation
combined her interests in art, social change and business. Always
based in New York City, she spent her summers at Pemaquid Point in
Maine where she was a leading member of the Friends of Colonial
Pemaquid, spearheading the efforts to restore Fort William Henry and
the Fort House and in collecting oral histories. This work resulted
in Colonial Pemaquid being recognized as a State Historic Site.
While at Pemaquid, Betty became interested in oceanography and
marine archaeology and was a dedicated sponsor of the work to locate
the remains of the English galleon Angel Gabriel, the ship that
brought the Blaisdell family to America in 1635.
After her retirement,
Betty spent her winters in Fort Lauderdale, where she was an active
member of the Fort Lauderdale Historical Society and a key driver in
the restoration of the House of Refuge life-saving station at the
Jupiter Inlet. She also supported marine archaeological projects and
oceanographic efforts to map and save south Florida's coral reefs.
Away from the shore, Betty devoted many years to the establishment
of a US Naval Air Station Museum in Fort Lauderdale.
A charter member of
the Women's Forum of New York City and founding member of the
Veteran Feminists of America, Betty is survived by her sister, Ruth
Blaisdell Simmons, and nieces Ellen Simmons and Marcia S. Brown.
member and former Lt. Gov. of Missoui, ( 1984) died of
leukemia.February 8th 2007.
She was 79. Before being the state's No. 2
executive, she served eight years in the state Senate, two years on
a state transportation commission and eight years on the University
City Council.. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Harriet graduated from the
University of Michigan. Before going into politics, she worked for
years as a newspaper reporter, then as a moderator and public
affairs director for KPLR-TV in St. Louis. She served on the board
of the Sue Shear Institute for Women in Public Life in St. Louis and
the Bella Abzug Institute for Women in Public Life in New York
Harriet is survived by
three sons and nine grandchildren.
MARY CONDON GEREAU -
Mary Condon Gereau,
who died February 12th in Fredericksburg, VA., was honored by VFA in
2000 at the Sewall Belmont House in Washington, the home of the
National Woman's Party, for , among other things, her work for the
Equal Rights Amendment .
She'd served as president of the Equal Rights
Ratification Council. She was also vice president of the National
Woman's Party from 1984 to 1991 and president of the Woman's Party Corporation
from 1990 to 1996. Her life began in the state of Iowa, where she'd
taught at rural schools there and in Montana. She was elected
Montana's Superintendent of Public Education in the 1950s, then
worked for 15 years in the National Education Association's
legislative division in Washington. She was Assistant Executive
Director of the White House Conference on Education in 1960,
president of the Burro Club, an organization of Democratic staffers
on Capitol Hill founded by then staff member of the House of
Representatives, Lyndon Johnson, from 1983 to 1986. Her rich
background included time spent with the Red Cross in India and Sri
Lanka in the 1940.s. In Washington, D.C. this granddaughter of Irish
immigrants was well known. The phrase among the national education
community was, "Go see Mary." She leaves her husband, Gerald Robert
Gereau, nieces and nephews and many friends.
After a failed run for
a third term, she moved to Washington and joined the National
Education Association, where she became a go-to person on education
legislation. During her 15 years in NEA's legislative division, she
lobbied for federal education laws such as Head Start and the Higher
Education Act of 1965. She also served as assistant executive
director of the White House Conference on Education in 1960. She
ended her career as a legislative assistant for education for Sen.
John Melcher of Montana (D).
A first-rate raconteur, Mrs. Gereau delighted
in telling a story about a vote against an education filibuster in
the Senate. "This little nun, not quite five feet tall, came up to two of us outside the
Senate chamber and told us a certain senator was with us. We looked
at one another, and my partner responded, 'Sister, when Senator
Jones votes to end a filibuster on Lyndon Johnson's education bill,
Mary and I will throw our arms around each other and leap over the
balcony to the Senate floor.' The vote proceeded. Senator Jones
voted against the filibuster. There was a gentle little tap on my
shoulder, and the little nun said, 'Jump, lady, jump!'
When Congress was considering the Equal Rights
Amendment, Mrs. Gereau served as the president of the Equal Rights
In 2000, she was honored by the Veteran
Feminists of America with its Medal of Honor for her work on behalf
of the Equal Rights Amendment and in the women's rights movement. At
that time, Jacqui Ceballos, the group's founding president, talked
about Mrs. Gereau's quiet, effective style.
"She worked in the back rooms in Washington,"
Ceballos told a reporter for the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star in
2000. "The radical activists had the support of those in high
positions, like Mary. Because of her, changes were being made in
Mary Margaret Condon Gereau was born Oct. 10,
1916, in Winterset, Iowa, the granddaughter of Irish immigrants.
Among her ancestors was Daniel O'Connell, known as "The Liberator"
of Ireland for leading the movement that won Catholic
She graduated from the University of Iowa
during the Depression. Afterward, she pursued a teaching position
but could not find one. She returned to the university for graduate
school, and when she was turned down for a loan from a member of the
scholarship committee who opposed scholarships for women, several
faculty members successfully lobbied for her loan.
After receiving a master's degree in history,
Mrs. Gereau taught English at a small rural Iowa high school during
World War II. In 1943, she became a program director with the
American Red Cross and was sent to India, where her team opened the
first recreation club for the Navy in Colombo, Ceylon, now Sri
Lanka. She later transferred to Karachi, India, which is now
Pakistan, before returning to the United States in late 1945. She
became an assistant professor of English and dean of men at Eastern
Montana College in Billings, before being elected Montana's state
superintendent. Mrs. Gereau later served as a consultant to the U.S.
Senate Interior Committee's subcommittee on Indian affairs. After
working at NEA, she served for four years as a legislative director
for the National Treasury Employees Union.
Mrs. Gereau received a number of honors,
including a Veterans of Foreign Wars Distinguished Service Award for
her work on behalf of veterans and the 1984 Congressional Staffer of
the Year Award from Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper. She also
was adopted as a princess by the Montana Blackfeet
She was vice president of the National Woman's
Party from 1984 to 1991, and president of Woman's Party Corp.,
owners of the historic Sewall-Belmont House, from 1990 to 1996. For
a while, she and her husband lived in the Sewell-Belmont House, the
headquarters for the women's rights movement.
She and her husband moved to Colonial Beach,
Va., about six years ago.
She is survived by her husband of 44 years,
Gerald Robert Gereau of Colonial Beach.
Mrs. Gereau said in the 2000 newspaper article
that she hoped young women would never face some of the
discrimination she faced. "Every time you get a break because you
are a woman, take advantage of it," she said. "Because there was a
time when you got kicked in the teeth for it."
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Judith Lightfoot Cormack, died at her home in
Sidney, Australia , where she'd lived for several years with her
husband, Graham Cormack. Most of us remember Judy as a member of the
national board of NOW, and later, as the chair of the board. She
joined the Atlanta chapter of NOW in 1969; was director of the
Southern Region from 1971 to 1973; chair of the NOW national board
1973 to 1975; and a member of the NOW LDEF board, also from 1973 to
1975. She took part in marches, rallies and campaigns, including
Sears, AT&T and the Salvation Army and was NOW's liaison to the
SCLC in 1974 and 1975. Judy was part of the Democratic Party reform
movement in NYC in the 1960s. On a personal note I got to know very
well through our email correspondence . She told me of her long wait
for a lung and her elation when she finally got one. She lived five
years after the transplant. Judy was a joy to know and her
enthusiasm at the founding of VFA was evident in the letter she
wrote in 1991 which was published in VFA's first
Judith Gumpert [Lightfoot] Cormack was born in
1937, in New York, New York. After she married, she and her husband
(Arthur) moved to Australia, where she worked for IBM from 1964
to1968. In 1968, Cormack returned to the United States and settled
in Atlanta, Georgia where she continued working in the computer
industry. Her involvement in the Women's Movement began in 1969 when
she joined the newly-formed Atlanta branch of National Organization
for Women (NOW). Through her activities with NOW, Cormack became a
significant figure in the Women's Movement both in Georgia and
nationally. She was a founding member of the Georgia Women's
Political Caucus (1971), a member of the 1972 Georgia Commission on
the Status of Women, and served as a member, southern regional
director, and chair of the board during NOW's split in the 1970s. In
1978 Cormack returned to Australia where she has lived for over
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Dies Christmas Eve
Jacqui Ceballos: email@example.com
VFA MOURNS THE LOSS OF THE BELOVED ARTIST AND
FRIEND, ALIDA WALSH
of Denver, NY, who
died December 24th at a hospital in Schenectady from complications
of a heart aneurism. A feminist activist, involved since the late
60's in the movement, Alida worked in sculpture, film, video and
multimedia and used her art in feminist
Born May 15, 1933, her best known works include
the "Earth-Mother Goddess" which was exhibited in PS I, and other
important shows. "Women Bound and Unbound" was a multimedia
performance presented at the National Women's Conference in Houston,
and funded by the Ms foundation. "Happy Birthday I'm Forty", an
autobiographical film toured the US and major festivals. Of the film
Kate Millet said, "Alida Walsh's film gives us courage."
One of the founding
members of Women/Artist/Filmmakers, Inc. Alida was an Assistant
professor at Montclair State University for 26 years, teaching film
and video as an art form, and film history. She studied at the Art
Institute in Chicago, received a BA from Northwestern in 1955, and
an MFA from San Diego University in 1956. Her work is in the Donnell
Library. Alida's last presentation was a multimedia avant-garde
event, November. 2006 at historic Hunter's Tavern in Andes, New York
. She was in a group exhibit entitled "Whispers of Nature " February
2005 at the Catskill Center Erpf gallery.
She is survived by a sister Mary Brand, from
Sarasota, Fla, brothers , Charles Walsh of Chicago and Mike Walsh of
Wilmette Illinois, and a niece Jessica Brand.
Her friend, Inverno www.invernalockpez.com is planning a memorial
Sunday, Jan 7th in upstate New York.
There are also plans for a celebration of her
life in NYC around her birthday in May.. If you can help ( a place
is needed, etc ) please get in touch with Silvianna Goldsmith
Sorry to bring you sad
news at this time of year, but I thought you would want to be
informed that Alida Walsh passed away Christmas eve during surgery
from an aortic aneurism, in Schenectedy NY. I know that she wanted,
and originally planned to come to the last event you had in NY ,but
wasn't feeling up to it, physically.
All the best, All the
Alida was a strong mover and shaker and her
meat pieces and other works were striking and broke new ground. She
had been ill a long time as I remember. I saw her and was shocked by
how enfeebled she had become as I remember her as a vital, radical
and striking figure.
leader, and former Hollywood publicist. In the early '70s, when
discussing rape was still taboo and few victims reported the crime,
feminist Csida and her husband wrote Rape: How to Avoid It & What to Do If You
Can’t. Csida died of non-Hodgkins lymphoma in Los
Angeles on September 29, 2006
Please pass this on to anyone you think might
be interested in attending. Also, please let me know if you are
willing to speak about June at the service. Or, please e-mail me if
you have a favorite story about June that we can tell at the
questions regarding the service, or needs directions, please e-mail
or call me.
June Bundy Csida was a member of Los Angeles
NOW since 1970 when she coordinated a search for surviving pre-World
War I suffragists to dparticipate in NOW's historic Women's Strike
for Equality celebration on August 26. The event marked the 50th
anniversary of the day women won the right to vote.
Inspired by those
gallant pioneer feminists, one of whom, Ernestine Kettler, served a
jail sentence for picketing the Wilson White House, Ms. Csida became
active in Los Angeles NOW and filled various chapter offices (vice
president, secretary, public relations officer) throughout the '70s.
Also during those years she assisted NOW's National Vice President
Toni Carabillo with media relations and was a contributor and
columnist for the National NOW Times.. In 1971, she persuaded
several Los Angeles TV and radio stations-including two network
outlets-to create and air public service spots for NOW, a first for
In 1972, she set up a special public forum on
the then- startling theme Rape - the Number One Crime Against Women.
The following year she and her husband, Joseph Csida, also a
long-time NOW member, wrote Rape (How To Avoid It And What To Do
About It If You Can't), the first book-length feminist treatment of
the shocking facts about the under-reported, under-prosecuted crime
against women and children.
Ms. Csida is also the author of: Elizabeth Cady
Stanton, The 19th Century Renaissance Woman; American Entertainment,
a Unique History of Popular Show Business (with Joseph Csida), a
chronological history of events in music, theatre, films,
television, radio, dance, vaudeville, circus, fairs and carnivals
since Colonial days; and A Complete Guide to Healthy Pets.
As a contributor to
the World Book Encyclopedia Year Book for 14 years, Ms. Csida wrote
annual reports on radio and television and many special features,
including a special report on The Second Feminist Revolt, tracing
the history of women's fight for equality from its origin in Seneca
Falls, N.Y., in 1848 through 1972. She was also a contributor to The
People's Almanac #1 and #2, writing on rape, murder, and animals.
writer-reporter for Billboard magazine for 15 years, Ms. Csida wrote
record, night club, theatre, radio, and television reviews,
eventually serving as TV-radio programming editor.
Ms. Csida scripted and researched the
syndicated TV series Movie Museum, a history of silent cinema
featuring the film library of D.W. Griffith's and other silent movie
classics; a syndicated radio series, Show Ms!, a feminist tribute to
women musical stars from the '20s to the '80s; and Billboard
magazine's annual Yearbook, a syndicated radio series covering
current events and best-selling records for rock, middle of the
road, and country.
In 1986, she wrote a tribute to male feminists
which was delivered by actor Ed Asner at NOW's 20th anniversary
At the age
of 20, in an era when most women stayed at home or worked as
secretaries, Ms. Csida went out on the road as advance agent for the
top novelty band of the day, Spike Jones and His City Slickers.
Prior to joining Billboard, she ran her own publicity agency in
partnership with Auriel Macfie.
Arlene Raven, 62, feminist, art
historian, and critic
By Elaine Woo, Los
Angeles Times | August 15, 2006
LOS ANGELES -- Arlene
Raven, an art historian, critic, and educator who helped transform
feminist outrage into the Woman's Building, an iconoclastic Los
Angeles institution that for 18 years was a magnet for women seeking
to produce art on their own terms, died of cancer Aug. 1 at her home
in Brooklyn, N.Y. She was 62.
Ms. Raven founded the Woman's Building in 1973
with artist Judy Chicago and graphic designer Sheila Levrant de
Bretteville. The three women, who were colleagues at the California
Institute of the Arts, also launched the Feminist Studio Workshop, a
two-year training program that sought to merge consciousness-raising
with practical art education.
For most of its existence, the Woman's Building
was a source of often outlandish creativity, where painters, poets,
performance artists, and others turned out work on subjects as
mundane as waitressing and as disturbing as rape.
Ms. Raven, who often described the building as
a place for ``living and working with another vision of the world,"
taught art history there and founded the Lesbian Art Project, which
promoted work by and about lesbian artists. Later the main art
critic for the Village Voice, she was a passionate advocate of
women's art who championed artists including June Wayne, Lesley
Dill, Petah Coyne, and Michele Oka Doner. Since 2000 she had been
critic-in-residence at the Rinehart School of Sculpture at the
Maryland Institute College of Art.
also cofounded and edited Chrysalis, an avant-garde feminist journal
that attracted writers including Adrienne Rich, Mary Daly, and Susan
Griffin. She wrote or edited nine books, including ``Feminist Art
Criticism" (1988) with co-editors Cassandra L. Langer and Joanna
Frueh, and ``Art in the Public Interest" (1989). She was the author
of perceptive monographs on Wayne, Oka Doner, Betye Saar, and Nancy
Grossman, her life partner since 1983.
``She was one of the very earliest women . . .
to begin to write women back into art history," said Terry
Wolverton, a Los Angeles writer and former director of the Woman's
Ms. Raven grew up in Baltimore and discovered
art and art history when she went to college. After graduating from
Maryland's Hood College in 1965, she earned a master's of fine art
at George Washington University in 1967. Eight years later, she
completed a doctorate in art history at Johns Hopkins
A defining moment in her career came in 1972,
when she attended the Conference of Women in the Visual Arts at the
Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C. The event joined artists
and art historians in protest of their lowly status in their
profession, signified by the absence of women in college textbooks
and important shows like the Corcoran Biennial. Hearing the
testimony of artists such as Wayne, Chicago, Helen Frankenthaler,
and Alice Neel, Ms. Raven was radicalized on the spot and decided to
leave the East Coast for California.
The Woman's Building housed the Feminist Studio
Workshop, Sisterhood Bookstore, a women's travel agency, galleries,
a graphic design center, and theater groups. A number of nationally
recognized artists found early support for their work at the Woman's
Building, including performance artists Rachel Rosenberg and Suzanne
Lacy, and artists Judy Baca, Lili Lakich, and Saar. The workshop
closed in 1981, a victim of Reagan-era budget cuts. Its closure came
amid criticism that the Woman's Building was dominated by lesbians
who wanted to exclude heterosexual women from its programs. The
Woman's Building struggled for another decade and finally closed it
doors in 1991.
After the workshop folded, Ms. Raven moved to
New York and began to write for the Village Voice.
Minnette F. Doderer
82, former state legislator, died Friday,
August 12, 2005, in Iowa City.
A celebration of Minnette's life and her
accomplishments will be held at a later date, tentatively in late
October or early November.
Minnette Doderer, VFA
member and feminist extraordinare died recently at her home in Iowa.
VFA honored Minette at the National Women's Party house in
Washington in 1999. Born in 1923, she was elected to the Iowa House
of Representatives in 1964, and was the leading advocate of women's
rights during her 25-year career in the state legislature. A magnet
for female constituents who had been ignored by her male colleagues
she handled issues no one else had wanted to touch. Her work on rape
law reform, the federal and state Equal Rights Amendments, juvenile
justice, childcare, and inheritance tax revision resulted in many
laws that improved the legal status of women. As president pro
tempore of the Senate for two years, she attained the highest
position ever held by a woman in the Iowa Legislature. Minette was
one of the founding members of the Iowa Women's Political Caucus and
co-chair of the International Women's Year coordinating committee.
In 1975 she was chair of the Iowa delegates to the United Nations
meeting in Houston.
Featured in the book More Strong Minded Women,
by Louise Noun, she was inducted into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame
in 1979. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the
Reproductive Rights Award, 1998; Business and Professional Women
Woman of Achievement Award, 1997; Feminist of the Year Award, 1996;
and Iowa City Senior Center Woman of the Year,
of Iowa Women's Archives, Iowa City. (ABS)
VFA MEMBER and SISTER...
Dies at 77 - 3/31/1998
Bella Abzug, 77,
Congresswoman And a Founding Feminist, Is Dead
Bella S. Abzug, New
Yorker, feminist, antiwar activist, politician and lawyer, died
yesterday at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center in Manhattan. She
was 77. She died of complications following heart surgery, said
Harold Holzer, who was her spokesman when she served in Congress.
She had been hospitalized for weeks, and had been in poor health for
several years, he said.
Ms. Abzug represented the
West Side of Manhattan for three Congressional terms in the 1970's.
She brought with her a belligerent, exuberant politics that made her
a national character. Often called just Bella, she was recognizable
everywhere by her big hats and a voice that Norman Mailer said
''could boil the fat off a taxicab driver's neck.''
She opposed the
Vietnam War, championed what was then called women's liberation and
was one of the first to call for the impeachment of President
Richard M. Nixon. Long after it ceased to be fashionable, she called
her politics radical. During her last campaign, for Congress in
1986, she told The New York Times, ''I am not a centrist.''
Bella Abzug was a founding feminist, and an
enduring one. In the movement's giddy, sloganeering early days, Ms.
Abzug was, like Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem, an icon, the hat
bobbing before the cameras at marches and rallies.
After leaving the
House in January 1977, she worked for women's rights for two more
decades. She founded an international women's group that worked on
environmental issues. And she was a leader of a conference of
nongovernmental organizations that paralleled the United Nations'
fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. Even then, she
continued to rankle. Former President George Bush, on a private
visit to China that coincided with the Beijing conference, said to a
meeting of food production executives: ''I feel somewhat sorry for
the Chinese, having Bella Abzug running around. Bella Abzug is one
who has always represented the extremes of the women's movement.''
When told of Mr. Bush's remark, Ms. Abzug, 75 and in a wheelchair,
retorted: ''He was addressing a fertilizer group? That's
forceful personality and direct manner made her a lightning rod for
criticism from those who opposed the idea of holding a women's
conference. After Bob Dole, then the Senate majority leader, said he
could not imagine why anyone ''would want to attend a conference
co-chaired by Bella Abzug,'' she responded that she was not running
the meeting but simply participating with more than 30,000 other
women over how best to achieve equal rights.
But much of what Ms.
Abzug agitated for -- abortion rights, day care, laws against
employment discrimination -- was by that time mainstream political
''she was first on almost everything, on everything that ever
mattered,'' said Esther Newberg, Ms. Abzug's first administrative
assistant and one of many staff members who quit but remained
devoted. ''She was first to call for Richard Nixon's impeachment,
first to call for an end to the war.''
Ms. Abzug made enemies easily -- ''Sometimes
the hat and the mouth took over,'' Ms. Newberg said -- but Ms. Abzug
saw that as a consequence of a refusal to compromise, as well as a
matter of sport. Of her time in the House, Ms. Abzug wrote in a
journal that was published in 1972 as ''Bella,'' ''I spend all day
figuring out how to beat the machine and knock the crap out of the
political power structure.'' She worked relentlessly at organizing
and coalition-building. A founder of Women Strike for Peace and the
National Women's Political Caucus, she spent a lifetime prodding for
change, with a lawyer's enthusiasm for political channels, through
organizations from the P.T.A. to the United Nations.
She made friends
easily, too. ''She's fierce and intense and funny,'' said her
longtime friend Gloria Steinem. ''She takes everyone seriously. When
she argues with you fiercely, it's because she takes you seriously.
And she's willing to change her mind. That's so rare.''
Bella Savitzky Abzug
was born on July 24, 1920 in the Bronx, the second daughter of
Jewish immigrants from Russia. Her father, Emanuel Savitzky, whom
Ms. Abzug later described as ''this humanist butcher,'' ran (and
named) the Live and Let Live Meat Market on Ninth Avenue in
Manhattan. She said she knew from the age of 11 that she wanted to
be a lawyer, and not long afterward gave her first public speech, in
a subway station, while collecting for a Zionist youth organization.
She went from Hunter College, where she was student body president,
to Columbia University Law School, where she
was an editor of The Law Review, to a practice representing union
traced the wearing of her trademark wide-brimmed hats to those days.
She once recalled: ''When I was a young lawyer, I would go to
people's offices and they would always say: 'Sit here. We'll wait
for the lawyer.' Working women wore hats. It was the only way they
would take you seriously. ''After a while, I started liking them.
When I got to Congress, they made a big thing of it. So I was
watching. Did they want me to wear it or not? They didn't want me to
wear it, so I did.''
In addition to her daughters, Eve and Liz, Ms.
Abzug is survived by her sister, Helene Alexander of Great Neck,
described as a tough and noisy woman, a prizefighter, a man hater,
you name it,'' Ms. Abzug said of herself in ''Bella.'' ''They call
me Battling Bella, Mother Courage and a Jewish mother with more
complaints than Portnoy.''
''There are those who say I'm impatient,
impetuous, uppity, rude, profane, brash and overbearing. Whether I'm
any of these things or all of them, you can decide for yourself. But
whatever I am -- and this ought to be made very clear at the outset
-- I am a very serious woman.''
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May 10, 2006
Champion of Abortion Rights, Is Dead at 86
By DOUGLAS MARTIN
Lawrence Lader, a writer who so successfully
marshaled his literary and political efforts in support of abortion
rights that Betty Friedan, the feminist author, called him the
father of the movement, died on Sunday at his home in Manhattan. He
Mr. Lader was a major voice in the abortion
debate for four decades, becoming a lightning rod for its critics as
well as a beacon for its proponents. He wrote influential books and
articles on the subject, organized ministers to refer women wanting
abortions to doctors as well as referring 2,000 himself, helped
found what was long known as the National Abortion Rights Action
League and helped win New York State's repeal of abortion
restrictions in 1970. He unsuccessfully sued the Internal Revenue
Service to end the Roman Catholic Church's tax exemptions on the
ground that its opposition to abortion had veered into the political
arena. He successfully challenged some restrictions on the drug
RU-486, known as the morning-after pill, and arranged to manufacture
a version of it in the United States.
He organized mothers with baby carriages to
demonstrate in favor of abortion on Mother's Day, strove to equate
abortion rights with civil rights and became famous (or notorious)
for sharply worded arguments. "Basically, the opposition really
hates women, which I think comes out of a woman's sexuality," he
said in an interview with The Body Politic magazine in 1991. "They
fear women's independence — women no longer chained to the home
waiting for the man with a rose in their teeth."
Mr. Lader stumbled
into the abortion issue while working on a biography of Margaret
Sanger, who around 1910 began her crusade for birth control because
of her horror of abortions, then dangerous and illegal. By the
1950's, he said, antibiotics and new technology had made the
procedure much safer, but it was still illegal and seldom discussed.
Mr. Lader wrote one of the first carefully documented books on the
subject, "Abortion" (1966). It began, "Abortion is the dread secret
of our society." The book promoted the argument that the Supreme
Court's 1965 decision in Griswold v. Connecticut, which enlarged
individual rights to privacy in matters of sexuality and family
planning, could apply to abortion. When the court in 1973 made
abortion legal in Roe v. Wade, it leaned heavily on the Connecticut
case and cited Mr. Lader's book at least seven times.
"It is not only an
authoritative study of the hypocrisy and absurdity of abortion
practices," Ms. Friedan said of the book, "it is a courageous
blueprint of what women must do to abolish the state's power to
force them to bear a child against their will." Opponents of
abortion differed. "By stigmatizing criticism of Roe v. Wade as
fanatical, Lader cheapens debate," James R. Kelly, a Fordham
University sociology and anthropology professor, said in a letter to
The New York Times in 1983.
Lawrence Powell Lader was born in Manhattan on
Aug. 6, 1919, and graduated from Harvard, where he helped found a
radio station and worked on The Crimson. He was an Army lieutenant
during World War II, and The New Yorker
published war dispatches he submitted. He became a widely published
magazine writer in Look, Reader's Digest and The New Republic, among
He was also
active politically, serving as district leader for Representative
Vito Marcantonio, who represented East Harlem and is still
considered one of the country's most radical congressmen. In 1948,
Mr. Lader ran for the New York State Assembly on Mr. Marcantonio's
American Labor Party ticket and lost. He made fun of his minor-party
status in a pamphlet. "Pull the last little lever for Larry Lader,"
it said. When Mr. Lader decided to write his first book, he
approached Ms. Sanger about a biography. She had already written
several autobiographies but welcomed the proposal. "Working with her
completely convinced me that a woman's freedom in education, jobs,
marriage, her whole life, could only be achieved when she gained
control of her childbearing," he said in an interview with The Times
in 1991. Mr. Lader's subjects besides abortion included the role of
Boston's elite in the struggle to end slavery.
On July 30, 1968, a
small group of what Mr. Lader described as radicals met in his
apartment to plan a national organization. The result was a meeting
in Chicago in February 1969, where the first order of business was
deciding whether to try to change abortion laws, as was already
happening in many states, or to try to repeal them. The answer came
in the name they chose: the National Association for the Repeal of
Abortion Laws. When the Supreme Court legalized abortion four years
later, the name was changed to the National Abortion Rights Action
League. After two more name changes, it is now called Naral
New York was the first battleground in the
fight to repeal state abortion restrictions. An unlikely set of
circumstances — including the fact that the Catholic Church's
attention was focused on a bill for parochial school aid,
miscalculations by abortion opponents and a last-minute vote change
— resulted in the repeal.
"The impossible victory," Mr. Lader called it
in his book "Abortion II" (1973).
In 1976, he left the abortion rights league, in
part because he believed it was becoming too establishmentarian. He
founded a new group, Abortion Rights Mobilization, that aggressively
fought his battles against the Catholic Church and for
Wendy Wasserstein, who
died yesterday aged 55, was a playwright whose witty satirical
comedies chronicled the changes wrought in women's lives by
feminism, and brought her both the Pulitzer and Tony awards.
Wendy Wasserstein was
born on October 18 1950 at Brooklyn, New York City, the youngest of
four children of Morris Wasserstein, a well-to-do textile
manufacturer who had invented velveteen, and his wife Lola, who had
a passion for dance and theatre. Both had
come to America from central Europe as children in the 1920s.
Wendy's maternal grandfather Simon Schleifer was a Yiddish
playwright who settled at Patterson, New Jersey; her brother Bruce,
a prominent mergers and acquisitions broker, is currently chairman
of Lazards on Wall Street.
As a child, she demonstrated her enthusiasm for
show business straight away, attending dance lessons each Saturday
morning before going to a matinée on Broadway. At the Calhoun
School, a private girls' school on Manhattan's Upper East Side,
where the family had moved, she avoided gym by writing the school's
annual musical revue.
Wendy Wasserstein went on to Mount Holyoke
College, Massachusetts, where she read History. She later said that,
uncertain what to do next, she hovered between law school (which
rejected her), business school (which she rejected) and medical
school (an idea she gave up after two weeks of physics). Instead she attended a summer school in
playwriting at Smith College, and then enrolled at Yale's School of
Drama. There she wrote a college musical, Montpelier Pa-zazz (with
David Hollister), and (with the playwright Christopher Durang) a
musical revue, When Dinah Shore Ruled the Earth.
In 1976 she graduated
with a Master's degree, for which the thesis was a one-act version
of what became her first play, Uncommon Women and Others. It opened
off-Broadway in November 1977 at the Marymount Manhattan Theatre,
and was hailed by the New York Times as "exuberant to the point of
coltishness". An account of the choices presented by feminism to a
group of women at an elite women's college in the early 1970s, it
starred Glenn Close and (when filmed for television the following
year) Meryl Streep. The play is still regularly revived in regional
theatre in America, and won several awards.
Wendy Wasserstein was
then commissioned by the Phoenix Theatre to write Isn't it Romantic,
about a friendship between two women, which at first opened to mixed
reviews in 1981, but became a box-office hit when, substantially
revised, it reopened two years later, before transferring to a
larger theatre and running for 733 performances. She worked on the
musical Miami (1986) and adapted John Cheever's story The Sorrows of
Gin for television; she also wrote regularly for the CBS series
Comedy Zone. During this period she wrote the screenplay for The
Object of My Affection, about a gay man and a pregnant woman who
move in together. It was finally filmed in 1998. Her greatest success came with The Heidi
Chronicles which, after workshops in Seattle the previous year,
opened in New York on December 11 1988, before transferring. It
starred Joan Allen as an art history professor, and cuts from the
growth of the women's movement in the 1960s to late 20th-century
themes such as Aids, single parenthood and yuppies. "I wanted to
track change, social change, and how all these movements affected
people's personal lives," she explained in an interview. It won the
Tony, the Pulitzer prize, and almost every other major award
available. It was later filmed with Jamie Lee Curtis. A collection
of essays, Bachelor Girls, was published in 1990, offering such
thoughts as "The worse the boyfriend, the more stunning the American
Sisters Rosenwieg transferred successfully from the Lincoln Centre
to Broadway in 1993; it also staged Old Money (2000), which cut
between the beginning and the end of the 20th century. An American
Daughter (1997, starring Kate Nelligan) detailed the downfall of a
career woman. Wendy Wasserstein's most recent play, Third, which ran
in New York late last year, starred Dianne Wiest as a liberal
college professor at odds with a young male student.
other books included Shiksa Goddess: Or How I Spent My Forties,
which described the difficulties which accompanied the birth of her
daughter (whose father she never publicly identified), who had been
born prematurely and severely underweight in 1999.
In person Wendy
Wasserstein was genial, plump, rumpled and wryly funny. She
described herself as "a perpetual graduate student who just gets
older and older". She worked best in a room which resembled one in a
students' hall of residence, complete with a very dusty exercise
bike. She was diagnosed with leukaemia at the end of last year. "My
fifties are about being a mother and the joy of my daughter Lucy
Jane and about loss," she said after the death of her sister from
breast cancer. "I think if you experience loss, you also on some
level try to treasure joy."
Wendy Wasserstein is survived by her
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'Unbossed' Pioneer in Congress, Dies
January 3, 2005
By JAMES BARRON
York Times Obituaries
In 1968, Shirley Chisolm of Brooklyn became the
first African American woman ever elected to Congress. Her
unsuccessful run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1972
made her well-known throughout the Unites
“I am not the candidate of black America,
although I am black and proud. I am not the candidate of the women's
movement of this country, although I am a woman, and I am equally
proud of that … I am the candidate of the people of America.”
–Shirley Chisholm, January 25, 1972, announcing
her bid for the U.S. Presidency
Shirley Chisholm, the
first black woman to serve in Congress and the first woman to seek
the Democratic presidential nomination, died on Saturday night at
her homein Ormond Beach, Fla. She was 80. She had suffered several
strokes recently, according to a former staff member, William
Howard. Mrs. Chisholm was an outspoken,
steely educator-turned-politician who shattered racial and gender
barriers as she became a national symbol of liberal politics in the
1960's and 1970's. Over the years, she also had a way of making
statements that angered the establishment, as in 1974, when she
asserted that "there isan undercurrent of resistance" to integration
"among many blacks in areas of concentrated poverty and
discrimination" - including in her own district in Brooklyn. "Just
wait, there may be some fireworks," she declared after winning her
seat in Congress in 1968 with an upset victory in Brooklyn's 12th
Congressional District, whichhad been created by court-ordered
Her slogan was "unbought and unbossed" - in the
primary, she had defeated two other candidates, William C. Thompson,
whom she maintained was the candidate of the Brooklyn Democratic
organization, and Dolly Robinson. "The party leaders do not like
me," Mrs. Chisholm said at the time. But about 80 percent of the
registered voters in the district - which included her own
neighborhood, Bedford-Stuyvesant - were Democrats. That edge helped
her in her race against James Farmer, a leader of the Freedom Rides
in the south in the early 1960's, who ran as an independent on the
Republican and Liberal lines, and Ralph Carrano, who ran as the
"I am an historical person at this point, and
I'm very much aware of it," she told The Washington Post a few
months after she was sworn in. Soon she was challenging the
seniority system in the House, which had relegated her to its
Agriculture Committee, an assignment she criticized as irrelevant to
an urban district like hers. "Apparently all they know here in
Washington about Brooklyn is that a tree grew there," she said in a
statement at the time. "Only nine black people have been elected to
Congress, and those nine should be used as effectively as possible."
She said that the
House speaker, John W. McCormack, had told her to "be a good
soldier" and accept the agriculture assignment. Instead, she fired a
parliamentary salvo at the chairman of the House Ways and Means
Committee, Wilbur D. Mills, who handed out the committee
assignments. Before long, she was reassigned, first to the Veterans
Affairs Committee, and eventually to the Education and Labor
Winning a better committee assignment did not
make her any less acerbic on the workings of Washington. "Our
representative democracy is not working," she wrote in a 1970 book
that borrowed her campaign slogan as its title, "because the
Congress that is supposed to represent the voters does not respond
to their needs. I believe the chief reason for this is that it is
ruled by a small group of old men."
In 1972, when she entered the presidential
primaries, she did not expect to capture the Democratic nomination,
which ultimately went to George S. McGovern. "Some see my candidacy as an
alternate and others as symbolic or a move to make other candidates
start addressing themselves to real issues," she said at the time.
She did not win a single primary, but in 2002, she said her campaign
had been a necessary "catalyst for change." She was also aware of
her status as a woman in politics. "I've always met more
discrimination being a woman than being black," she told The
Associated Press in December 1982, shortly before she left
Washington to teach at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. "When
I ran for the Congress, when I ran for president, I met more
discrimination as a woman than for being black. Men are men."
Shirley Anita St. Hill
Chisholm was born in Bedford-Stuyvesant on Nov. 30, 1924. Her father
worked in a factory that made burlap bags, and her mother was a
seamstress and domestic worker. They sent their daughter and her
three sisters to Barbados, where the children lived with a
grandmother until 1934. Mrs. Chisholm later described the relatives
she encountered there as "a strongly disciplined family unit."
But she had her own
strength, too: "Mother always said that even when I was 3, I used to
get the 6- and 7-year-old kidson the block and punch them and say,
'Listen to me.' " Her professors listened to her at Brooklyn
College, where she won prizes in debating. Some of them told her she
should think about politics as a career.
First, though, she
taught in a nursery school and earned a master's degree in
elementary education at Columbia University. Working as the director
of the Friends Day Nursery in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn
and the Hamilton-Madison Child Care Center in Lower Manhattan, she
became widely known as an authority on early education and child
welfare. She argued that early schooling was essential, saying she
knew there were experts who maintained that children's eyes were not
developed enough for reading. "I say baloney, because I learned to
read when I was 3½," she countered, "and I learned to write when I
to 1964, she was an educational consultant in the day care division
of the city's bureau of child welfare. But she laid a foundation for
her eventual political career, working as a clubhouse volunteer and
with organizations like the Bedford-Stuyvesant Political League and
the League of Women Voters. So, when she decided to run for the New
York State Assembly in 1964, she said the decision was
straightforward: "The people wanted me." She moved on to the House
four years later, in the year when President Lyndon B. Johnson
decided not to run for re-election. A year later, she confirmed her
reputation for independence when she endorsed John V. Lindsay, who
was running for re-election as mayor of New York as the Liberal
Party candidate.By 1982, the political climate had changed, and Mrs.
Chisholm left Washington after seven terms in the House, saying that
"moderate and liberal" lawmakers were "running for cover from the
new right." But she also had personal reasons for deciding not to
seek re-election that year: Her second husband, Arthur Hardwick, a
Buffalo liquor store owner who had been in the New York State
Assembly when Mrs. Chisholm was, had been injured in a car accident.
(Her first marriage, to Conrad O. Chisholm, ended in divorce in
1977. Mr. Hardwick died in 1986.)
"I had been so consumed by
my life in politics," she said in 1982. "I had no time for privacy,
no time for my husband, no time to play my beautiful grand piano.
After he recovered, I decided to make some changes in my life. I
truly believe God had a message for me." She also sounded
frustrated, saying she had been misunderstood for much of her
career. She mentioned her hospital visit to George C. Wallace, the
Alabama governor who built his political career on segregation,
after he had been wounded in an assassination attempt in 1972.
"Black people in my community crucified me," she recalled. "But why
shouldn't I go to visit him? Every other presidential candidate was
going to see him. He said to me, 'What are your people going to
say?' I said: 'I know what they're going to say. But I wouldn't want
what happened to you to happen to anyone.' He cried and cried and
cried." She maintained that her visit had paid off. "He always spoke
well of Shirley Chisholm in the South," she said, adding that she
had contacted him in 1974, when she was looking for votes for a bill
to extend federal minimum-wage provisions to domestic workers. "Many
of the Southerners did not want to make the vote. They came around."
moved to Florida in 1991 and said in 2002, "I live a very quiet
life." She said she spent her time reading biographies - political
biographies. "I have faded out of the scene," she said. When she
left Washington, she said she did not want to go down in history as
"the nation's first black congresswoman" or, as she put it, "the
first black woman congressman."
"I'd like them to say
that Shirley Chisholm had guts," she said. "That's how I'd like to
Michelle O'Donnell contributed reporting for
Shirley Chisholm 1972
(photo by Rose Greene)
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Her Spirit Lives On
April 3, 1926 - October 15,
FAREWELL TO A DEAR FRIEND...
The beloved Midge Kovacs , Ad Executive,
feminist organizer and master planner; mentor, inspiration to her
friends and family -- died Friday, October 15, at her home in New
York City at the age of 78.
Midge joined New York NOW in 1970 and as Vice
President and head of the Image Committee launched a campaign to
change the image of women in the media. Among the many campaigns she
led in this effort were the consciousness raising sessions she held
with AD Agency executives, and the successful national public
service ad campaign with NOW's Legal Defense and Education Fund on
women's rights - "Woman Power. It's Much Too Good To Waste". She
wrote a column for Advertising Age and was president of her own ad
agency, Ads Unlimited, NYC, for 25 years.
In the 80s, a victim
of Spasmodic Dysphonia, Midge's vocal chords stopped functioning
together which severely limited her voice -- and she promptly
organized a national support group for the National Spasmodic
Dysphonia Association. She was a founding board member and speaker
for the Association and founded and edited the award winning
journal, "Our Voice." She later suffered a stroke. and, from her
wheelchair led another campaign for better access for wheelchair
citizens in NYC.. -Somewhere during this time she had cancer, then a
recurrence of cancer, which led to her death. During her illnesses
she studied the stock market and became something of an expert and
often guided friends in the matter of investments. In the last two
years she organized a cabaret group and produced two shows which
were performed in her apartment complex in Manhattan.
The great loves of
Midge's life were her sister, Esther Ray of Huntington, NY and
Esther's daughters, nieces Linda and Diane; Linda's sons, Justin and
Nicholas and Diane's daughters, Maya and Naomi; and their husbands,
Pat and Paul.
Besides them she leaves a large circle of
feminist friends who esteemed and loved her deeply.
Donations can be made
to the MIDGE KOVACS Fund FOR VFA PO Box Lafayette, LA and/or to
Cancer Care, NYC.
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1919-2004 , PHOTOGRAPHER, SOUTH SHORE L.I. NOW
October 10, 2004
Frank Welch, an early member of Long Island
NOW, and husband of VFA board member, Grace Ripa Welch, died October
10th in St. Catherine's Hospital, Smithtown, Long Island,
A native of Anderson , South Carolina , Frank
moved to New York to work for the Ford Instrument Company war plant
in Long Island City prior to World War II. He was drafted and served
in the U.S. Navy as Ships Company Photographer, Camp Peary, Virginia
until war's end, when he started his own commercial photography
studio in Sunnyside, Queens. He sold his studio after five years and
joined Brookhaven National Laboratories, Long Island as a
Photo-Technician, from which he retired in 1981.
On Frank's first Saturday in New York he met 16
year old Grace Ripa on a blind date. They wed in 1946 and were
married for 58 years, having known each other 64
Frank and Grace were conveners of the South
Shore Chapter of NOW, Bay Shore in 1973. When Grace became president
of South Shore NOW, Frank co-chaired the Masculine Mystique
Committee with Chris Golder, and facilitated the Island's first
Co-Ed Consciousness Raising groups. He also served for a time as
chapter treasurer, and assisted in the production and distribution
of the monthly Newsletter. In addition, Frank attended many NOW
conferences, including the famous Houston conference of
In 1993, Frank suffered a stroke (CVA left),
but he never lost his power of speech nor his sense of humor, and
continued accompanying Grace to NOW conventions in his motorized
wheelchair, most recently the July 2004 LasVegas National Conference
at The Riviera Hotel, which he thoroughly enjoyed.
Frank often had to dodge the resentment of
newly awakened feminists, who directed their anger against the
patriarchal system to him --remember those days? -- he took it all
with patience and good humor, and was much loved by Long Island NOW
Frank is survived by Grace and their three
children, Michael Ripa Welch of Brooklyn, Jean Welch Tobin of
Fairfield, Iowa and Lisa Welch Hair and her husband, Tom of Bayport,
L.I., and two granddaughters, Kimberly Grace and Leanna
You may read more about Frank in THE MEN OF VFA
section on the VFA webpage, www:vfa.us and give any donations in his
honor to VFA c/o the Frank Welch Fund.
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She had told friends, "I'll retire when I die,"
was living in a nursing home in Detroit and still at it until her
death at 93.
The wonderful Millie was, among other things,
the great behind-the-scenes strategist of modern
On the staff of the United Auto Workers she
helped organize the National Women's Political Caucus and was its
president for two terms. She helped launch a campaign to have
delegate slots to the Democratic National Conventions equally
divided between women and men.
She was the
"unelected leader" of a committee which promoted the idea of a
female vice presidential candidate and helped get Geraldine Ferraro
on the ticket.
Michigan's governor Jennifer Granholm and
Senator Debbie Stabenow said they would not be in their current
positions had it not been for Millie's decades of work on behalf of
equal opportunities for women.
Millie began in the 1930's when she organized
clothing workers in the South. In 1944 she became the fIrst director
of the UAW's Women's Bureau, helping secure child care and
transportation for the quarter million Riveting Rosies -- and
teaching the women skills they needed to have a role in their union.
By the end of World War II Millie helped Walter Reuther mold the
auto workers into a great force for social democracy. She introduced
young John Kennedy to NAACP leaders, and got UA W support for him.
Her energy was legendary ...At 91 she traveled from Detroit to
Cleveland to witness Joan Campbell's swearing-in as mayor. V FA
honored Millie in NYC in 1998, when she led a rousing salute to the
recently deceased BellaAbzug. Amazing woman, a treasure of the
feminist movement, we were fortunate to have with us so
Writer, and a founding member of Redstockings,
Corrine died on July 4 at her home in Manhattan, of heart disease.
She was 77. Corrine was at the Ladies Home Journal sit-in (see her
photo in Marcia Cohen's "the Sisterhood,") and took part in the
Women's Liberation Conference in Lake Villa, 111, 1968. She was an
editor of Feelings, a women's liberation journal, in which some of
her poems appear. In recent years, she was active with Redstockings
Allies and Veterans. The mother of four, she was a longtime English
teacher in the NYC public schools. Kathy Sarachild reports that she
was moved to feminism in the 1950's by Simoine de Bouvier's "The
Second Sex." Somehow, V FA never found her, nor she us -which
reminds us all to give us names and addresses of others who were
there in the fIrst years.
Barbara Mehrof emails: "Just heard of the death
of Sheila Cronan, who was a member of New York Radical Women,
Redstockings and The Feminists before becoming a lawyer. She worked
at the Dept of Labor in Washington. We were all just out of college
and social workers at the Bureau of Child Welfare when we went to
our fIrSt demonstration against Colgate- Palmolive. Cindy Cisler was
giving out leaflets for a WL meeting and the rest is
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MARY JEAN TULLY 1925-2003
Words from Jacqui
Dear Members.. If you plan to attend , please
RSVP. Gloria, I and other VFA officers will speak for VFA and as
friends of Mary Jean. It's a good time to get together as we say
goodbye to Mary Jean. I'm sure she would love this..
220 Doucet Rd 225-D
Lafayette, LA 70503
Phone/Fax - 337-984-3599
Cell phone - 337-278-3389 ( only when
VFA has lost another pioneer of the feminist
movement. Mary Jean Tully, a founder of VFA died December 27 at a hospital in White Plains, New
York of a heart attack where she was being treated for various
medical problems. She'd been ill since October. Her death is another
great loss for VFA and the feminist movement.
Mary Jean came into
the Movement after the Strike of 1970. She co- founded Westchester
NOW, co-edited NOW's national newsletter for a while, and then took
NOW's lifeless Legal Defense and Education Fund and built it to a
powerful legal arm. In no time she'd found a home for LDEF, a whole
floor at a 57th Street building off Fifth Avenue; had corporations
and foundations giving money, and held fund raising events with the
cooperation of the Mayor and the Governor of New York.
In the late 1980's she
founded the History of Now and Betty Friedan project at Schlesinger
Library at Radcliffe/Harvard in Cambridge. Jacqui Ceballos was one
of the interviewers for the Project and expanded interviews to
include leaders of Women's Liberation groups and other NOW
activists, all who expressed a wish to reunite. This was the
motivation for the founding of Veteran Feminists of America, of
which was organized in Mary Jean's New York apartment.
Mary Jean leaves five
children and six grandchildren and many bereft
As Published in the New
York Times on 1/1/2004. ...
Mary Jean, 78, a pioneer of the feminist
movement, died of a heart attack December 27, 2003. She is survived
by her five children: Bruce Tully of Manhattan, Linsey Tully of
Manhattan, Laura Tully of Lexington, MA, Scott Tully of
Pleasantville, NY and Andrew Tully of San Francisco, CA; six
grandchildren: Kelly Anne Tully, Simon Schneider and Tristan,
Taylor, Troy and Ashlynn Tully; her former husband, C. Robert Tully;
her sister, Carolyn Griffin; and daughters-inlaw, Sandi Tully,
Dorothy Tully, and Beth Mooney and sonin-law Rob Schneider.
Predeceased by son-in-law Malcolm Birnbaum.
Mary Jean became a leader in the women's
movement in 1970 and served as president of both NOW Legal Defense
and Education Fund and the Fund for Women's Rights, an organization
founded with Betty Friedan to work for the Equal Rights Amendment.
Mary Jean conceived of and founded the Midlife Institute at
Marymount Manhattan College and the Tully Crenshaw Feminist Oral
History Project at the Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe
Mary Jean was a founding member (and co-chair)
of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, a founding
member of the New York State National Women's Political Caucus and a
founding member of the Westchester Chapter of NOW.
Mary Jean was a dynamic and inspiring presence
within her family and among her many friends. She was deeply loved
and will be sorely missed. Services will be
A celebration of Mary
Jean's life will be held in New York City in early 2004. Donations
in her name may be made to NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund,
Veteran Feminists of America, Alvin Ailey dance company, or any
organization dedicated to the defeat of George W. Bush.
Contact Jacqui Ceballos for further
THE PASSING OF A DEAR
COLLEAGUE AND A FOUNDER OF
Our beloved friend,
colleague and feminist extraordinaire, a founder of Veteran
Feminists of America, Gene T. Boyer passed away Tuesday, Aug. 19,
2003, at her home in Madison, Wisconsin. News of her imminent death
came from Gene directly, in a card she wrote in response to the
birthday card I'd sent her.
|July 9, 2003|
imagine how meaningful your card is to me at this time - my
78th birthday . I have just learned I have incurable cancer
and a measurable remaining life span of probably less than a
year. It lends a great sense of urgency to disposing of my
papers, books and other memorabilia in appropriate ways. I
think of it as the Legacy Project since I must abandon the
book-writing which I had in mind unless I can get someone to
help me quickly.
Your words of love and affirmation are so
significant to me now. You must know how important your
friendship has been to me, and how much I hope all your dreams
for VFA and for yourself will come true.
Until we meet
again - Hasta la vista!
Hugs and love!
I immediately alerted many, and the messages
began pouring in; to her, in Madison, and to me, via email. A few
days later we spoke by phone. She was in good spirits and we joked
and laughed a bit . She wasn't afraid of going, in fact we talked
about meeting friends on the "other side." I asked her to say hello
to Catherine East, Wilma Scott Heide and others. She said she'd join
the feminist contingent and promised to help guide us in all our
though she told me she had very little time left, I didn't expect it
would be only a matter of days! So, when Burt called early on August
20th to report that she'd died (quietly and peacefully) it was a
shock. Though we saw one another maybe once a year since 1990 (when
we began talking about a reunion of pioneer feminists) we were in
contact often by email and phone..
I never realized how much I'd miss her! She was
so helpful, especially in financial and organizing areas. More
important, she believed in me, and that faith inspired me on. I hope
she keeps her word and continues to help me and all of us from the
A LITTLE ABOUT
She was born on July 11, 1925, the daughter of
Nat and Rene (Hiller) Cohen. As a member of the Status of Women
Commission in Washington, D.C., for a national conference, she took
part in the founding of NOW and a NOW treasurer, a finance vice
president and later president of the NOW Legal Defense and Education
Fund. She led the National Conference Committee, was a co-founder of
Veteran Feminists of America, and founded the Jewish Women's
Coalition and the Wisconsin Women's Network. Gene and Burt, her
husband of 58 years, owned and operated a furniture business in
Beaver Dam for 32 years. She is survived by Burt, daughter, Bari;
grandchildren, Brit and Brook; and brother, Robert Cohen.
Gene's papers will be
kept in the Wisconsin Historical Society. Papers dealing with
national organizing will be housed at the Schlesinger Library at
VFA members may remember Gene
by giving a donation to
GENE BOYER MEMORIAL FUND OF
473 Westminister Rd
Brooklyn, NY 11218
The fund will be used to help organize events
in Wisconsin and other mid-west states to honor great feminists
there who, Gene believed, are not properly credited for their
leadership of the feminist movement.
Members who learned of Gene's illness sent a
message to her through the VFA office. Sadly, she didn't get to read
them, but in our last conversation she asked that they be included
in a card and placed in the Gene Boyer Legacy at the Wisconsin
Historical Society. Messages I've received so far will be faxed to
Burt in time for the memorial service on Saturday , and later, with
other messages, will be sent to the Wisconsin Historical Society.
Jacqui Ceballos, President,
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TOO SOON -- A LOSS FOR
FEMINISM AND ART
Reported by Rosalyn Baxandall
There is so much more
on Irene Peslikis
at the RedStockings' website!
When we think of what it is that politicizes
people it is not so much books or ideas but experience.
- Irene Peslikis
(Painting by Alice Neel)
Irene Peslikis, born
10/7/43 and died on 11/28/02 of all the pains and troubles that go
with poverty, poor heath care, a devastating
divorce and being crippled. She was feminist artist who was one of
the principal founders and organizers of the entire women's art
movement (especially on east coast). She organized the first show of
2nd Wave women artists, taught the first Women & Art course on a
college campus, at the State University of New York at Old Westbury,
and was a founder of the first feminist art school, the Feminist Art
Institute, which ran a full-time radical feminist art education
program for women for years. She was one of founders of the New York
Studio School for Drawing, Painting and Sculpture, which broke away
from Pratt in 1963 and opened in 1964 in the former Whitney and is
still functioning. With another feminist artist, Pat Manairdi, Irene
founded the journal Women & Art, which helped to make the great
portraitist Alice Neel famous. (Alice Neel painted a portrait of
Irene, which was just reproduced on the cover of the Summer 2002
issue of Feminist Studies.)
Photo: Jenny Brown,
Redstockings Women's Liberation Archives for Action
She was also one of the
founders of the NoHo gallery, one of the, if not the, first
cooperative feminist art gallery. Her political cartoons, widely
circulated in the early Women’s Liberation Movement years &
published in feminist journals and in collections of the feminist
movement like Dear Sisters, Dispatches from the Women’s Liberation
Movement (Basic Books 2000). Irene was a founding member of
Redstockings, the leading Feminist women’s theoretical and
consciousness- raising group in New York City as well as a member of
the earlier group NY Radical Women She wrote "Resistances to
Consciousness" paper (printed in Notes from the Second Year), so
important to the understanding of CR, and was a key organizer and
participant of the infamous Redstocking Speak out on Abortion at
Washington Sq Methodist Church. Anne Forer, an old friend from NY
Radical Women described her as, "a loving, lively girl with
spectacular generosity and helpfulness. She loved encouraging
beginning artists. Because she loved art and the experience of doing
art, she wanted everyone who wanted it to have it too. She was
unique in understanding the uniqueness of each individual, and
cherishing it above all.'' Before she became disabled she was a
karate giant and long distance biker.
She taught at the City College of New York, the
College of Staten Island, the College of New Rochelle and Ramapo
College, was active in the Greek community and published art and art
history and criticism in Rozinanta, Demokratia and
Eleftheri-Patrida. Her brother and sister-in law, Michael and Cindy
Peslikis of Bowling Green, Ohio, and her mother also of Bowling
Green and her husband, Richard Castellana, survive her. The Peslikis
family was raised in Jamaica, Flushing, and Richmond Hill, Queens.
There will be a memorial at the Studio School sometime in the
Please visit the
RedStockings' website for more on
For more information call or send memories
Home- 212- 982-8388 Work- 516-
Martha Wright Griffiths, a longtime United
States representative who was a legend in Michigan Democratic
politics and one of the most effective women's civil rights
legislators of her day, died on Tuesday -- April 22, 2003 -- at her
home in Armada, Mich. She was 91. Known for her sharp intellect and
blunt language, she entered Congress in 1955, was re-elected nine
times and served through 1974, when she chose not to run again. She
successfully fought to bring women under the protection of the 1964
Civil Rights Act, her crowning achievement in Congress. Her
persistence became a decisive factor in House approval of the Equal
Rights Amendment to the Constitution in 1970. It was her second
triumph as a lawmaker, even though it remained a symbolic victory.
pursued passage of the amendment calmly, with the persuasive skills
of the trial lawyer she once was. Her arguments went a long way
toward persuading a male-dominated House to subscribe to a cause
that had been on the table for 47 years, since women got the vote in
1923. The Senate followed suit in 1972, and the proposed amendment
then went to the states for approval. It gained a majority but fell
three states short of the 38 needed for ratification. Opponents of ratification raised the specter of
economic ruin and combat duty for women, but Mrs. Griffiths
continued the fight at the state level. She and Phyllis Schlafly, a
principal opponent, sharply debated the issue at a national forum in
1976. "If we had five minutes more," said Rosemary Mullaney, one of
the forum's organizers, "they would have killed each other."
For much of her life,
Mrs. Griffiths scored firsts, like becoming the first woman to serve
on the House Ways and Means Committee. She also sat on the Joint
Economic Committee of Congress and was chairwoman of the House
Subcommittee on Fiscal Policy. Such key assignments gave her
leverage to lobby for giving women specific protection under the
Civil Rights Act. As proposed, the bill would have barred
discrimination on the basis of race, religion or national origin;
she led the drive to add "sex" as a listed category.
Mrs. Griffiths noted
that inequalities could run either way, telling her colleagues on
the Ways and Means Committee at one point, "I am tired of paying
into a pension fund to support your widow but not my widower." She
ascribed part of her success to her husband and sometime law
partner, Hicks G. Griffiths, who was once state Democratic chairman
of Michigan. He died in 1996.
She was born Martha Wright in Pierce City, Mo.,
the daughter of a rural mail carrier, and became a champion debater
in high school. She met Mr. Griffiths, a fellow student, at the
University of Missouri, where both were on the debating team. They
eloped the year before she graduated in 1934. They studied law, and
in 1940 were the first couple to graduate together from the
University of Michigan Law School. They went into practice in
Detroit in 1946 as Griffiths & Griffiths. Another partner was G.
Mennen Williams, whom they helped in his bid for governor in 1948.
By then Mrs.Griffiths had lost her first race for the state
She gained a seat in the state House, one of
only two women in that chamber from 1949 to 1952, when she lost her
first bid for Congress. Instead, Governor Williams appointed her to
the bench of Recorder's Court in Detroit, and she was a judge until
her election to the House in 1954, the first Democratic woman
elected to Congress from Michigan. After leaving Congress, she
inhabited corporate boardrooms where few women had ever been
members. She returned to politics in 1982, when James J. Blanchard,
the Democratic candidate for governor, made her his running mate.
She was elected lieutenant governor and re-elected with him in 1986.
Governor Blanchard's decision to replace her on his ticket in 1990
caused political furor in Michigan. Mr. Blanchard indicated that he
had dropped her because of her age and increasing frailty, but Mrs.
Griffiths, ever feisty, took issue and said women and the elderly
had put Mr. Blanchard into office in the first place.
Mr. Blanchard narrowly
lost the election to John M. Engler, a Republican.
"I don't know if I
feel vindicated, but I think it clearly shows that I won it for him
the first two times," Mrs. Griffiths said after Mr. Blanchard's
defeat. "I feel bad for him, but he took some very bad
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Mary Maxine Reed
Won the first Sex Discrimination Suit in
Mary Maxine Reed, who
in 1971 won the first Sex Discrimination Suit, died on September 26,
2002 near Boise , Idaho. She was around 93 years old.
On Nov. 22, 1971, the Supreme Court unanimously
ruled that an Idaho law that automatically gave Mrs. Reed's former
husband preference over her as administrator of their dead son's
estate violated the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection
under the law. The Supreme Court called the Idaho law "the very kind
of arbitrary legislative choice forbidden by the Equal Protection
the first time the Supreme Court had declared a state law
unconstitutional because it discriminated against one sex. The
ruling overturned many similar laws around the country, including
another Idaho law declaring the husband the head of the family, with
the right to determine where it lives, as well as a 1948 Michigan
law prohibiting women from serving alcoholic drinks in bars.
Previous challenges to such laws before the Supreme Court had
came about in 1967 after the Reeds' 16-year-old son, Richard Lynn
Reed, shot himself. Mrs. Reed and her former husband, Cecil, from
whom she was divorced in 1958, applied to a court to administer
their son's small estate. Mrs. Reed lost the first court battle
because Idaho law said that when two people were equally qualified
to be administrators, preference must be given to a man. Saying she
was angry that "women could be stepped on like that," Mrs. Reed then
appealed to the District Court and won.
In a widely reported legal battle Mrs. Reed was
assisted by Mr. Derr, her Boise lawyer, and two lawyers from the
American Civil Liberties Union, Mel Wulf and Ruth Bader Ginsburg,
who is now a Supreme Court Justice.
Toni Carabillo, long-time feminist leader and a
co-founder and Vice President of the Feminist Majority, died on
October 28, 1997 at the age of 71 after a seven-year battle with
lymphoma and lung cancer. She died in her sleep at her home in Los
Toni Carabillo founded the Feminist Majority with Eleanor Smeal, Peg
Yorkin, Judith Meuli, and Katherine Spillar in 1987 and later became
the organization's vice president. In 1988, she co-authored a book
with Judith Meuli entitled The Feminization of
Her intense involvement in the feminist
movement began when she joined the National Organization for Women
In 1967, she helped found the California
Chapters of NOW. She served as President of the Los Angeles Chapter
from 1968 to 1970 and from 1980 through 1982. She was a member of
NOW's National Board of Directors almost continuously from 1968 to
1977, served as a National Vice President from 1971 through 1974,
and chaired NOW's National Advisory Committee from 1975 until
It was during her second tenure as president of
Los Angeles NOW that the memorable "Last Walk for the ERA" in August
1981 was organized and more than 10,000 people marched on the Avenue
of the Stars and more than $300,000 was raised for the ERA Countdown
Campaign. She was simultaneously director of the NOW ERA Countdown
Office in Los Angeles during the final ratification drive, which
raised an additional $155,000 in six months through nightly phone
banks and home parties for a total of nearly half a million
She was co-editor of NOW's national newsletter,
NOW Acts , from 1970 to 1973 and co-editor of its national
newspaper, the National NOW Times, from 1977 until 1985. She was an
associate editor of The Eleanor Smeal Report, a national "insiders"
newsletter with a feminist perspective, which was published from
1983 to 1990.
She developed a chronology of the feminist
movement of the 20th century as a computerized data base, using this
as the basis for the book The Feminist Chronicles, 1953-1993. The
data base was used as the source for NOW's 25th Anniversary Show in
Los Angeles in December 1986, subsequently released as a two-hour
video tape. With the Feminist Majority, she participated in the
production of two video tapes, Abortion: For Survival and Abortion
Denied: Shattering Young Women's Lives.
In 1969, she co-founded the Women's Heritage
Corporation, a publishing company that produced the Women's Heritage
Calendar and Almanac and a series of paperbacks on such figures as
Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucy Stone. In 1970, she formed a graphic
arts firm with Ms. Meuli in Los Angeles.
Professionally, Ms. Carabillo was a writer and
graphic designer. She earned an A.B. degree from Middlebury College,
Vermont, and an M.A. from Columbia University.
Prior to 1970, she was assistant manager of
Corporate Communications for System Development Corporation (SDC), a
think tank working on national defense systems. At SDC, she
supervised a corporate publications unit of writers, a graphic
design department, an employee publications unit, and a corporate
exhibits staff, in addition to editing a ground-breaking,
award-winning magazine explaining computer technology and
Her eleven-year career with SDC ended not long
after she was involved in an unauthorized survey of women employees
that revealed a pattern of sex discrimination in salaries and career
As a feminist advocate, Ms. Carabillo appeared
on both national and local television and radio. She is the author
of many Op-Ed articles, a number of which were nationally
syndicated. Her biography appears in Who's Who In America and Who's
Who of American Women.
PATSY MINK 1927-2002
This is a terrible loss, especially for women!
The Veteran Feminists of America planned to honor her this November
8th and 9th at our 30th anniversary celebration of Title IX in
Baltimore—I'd been in contact with her offices and it seemed she
just might be well and able to attend our
VFA will honor her
posthumously—and dedicate the event to her, along with
Ann London Scott and Pauli
Murray, two fallen soldiers
of the cause of equality for women. Our sympathy goes out to Patsy's
family, to Hawaii, the Congress of the U.S. and to women and men all
Ceballos, Lafayette, La.
Patsy Mink Coalition
Patsy Mink has served in the House of
Representatives for twelve terms. She is the first woman of Asian
descent to serve in the U.S. Congress.
Her ancestry is the
classic story of immigrants seeking a better life in America for
themselves and their families. Her four grandparents emigrated from
Japan in the late 1800's to work as contract laborers in Maui's
Patsy was born in Maui in December of 1928.
From her earliest years, she was encouraged to excel in academic
courses. When she ran for student body president during her junior
year in high school, she began her unofficial political career.
World War II had begun and she was facing the anti-Japanese-American
sentiment that prevailed throughout the country. She also had to
overcome the obstacle of being the first girl to run for this
office. To achieve this goal, she impressed a variety of students,
including gaining the support of the popular football team. She won
a very close election and learned the importance of coalition
building. In 1944 she graduated as high school class
began college at the University of Hawaii, but transferred to the
University of Nebraska where she faced a policy of segregated
student housing. Working with other students, their parents, and
even university trustees, this policy of discrimination was ended.
She returned to the University of Hawaii to prepare for medical
school and graduated with a degree in zoology and chemistry.
However, in 1948, none of the twenty medical schools to which she
applied would accept women.
She decided to study law
and was accepted by the University of Chicago because they
considered her a "foreign student." Choosing not to inform the
University that Hawaii was an American territory, she obtained her
Doctor of Jurisprudence in 1951. Newly married, she became the first
Asian-American woman to practice law in Hawaii. In 1956, she was
elected to the Territorial House of Representatives. It was the
beginning of a long and effective political life for Patsy Mink. In
1959, Hawaii became the 50th state. In 1965, Patsy Mink was elected
to the U.S. House of Representatives and began the first of six
consecutive terms in the House of Representatives. She was the first
woman of color to be elected to Congress.
Mink's ability to
build coalitions for progressive legislation continued during her
tenure in Congress. She introduced the first comprehensive Early
Childhood Education Act and authored the Women's Educational Equity
Act. In the early 1970's, she played a key role in the enactment of
Title IX of the Higher Education Act Amendments. Written in 1972 to
be enacted by 1977, Title IX, which prohibited gender discrimination
by federally funded institutions, has become the major tool for
women's fuller participation not only in sports, but in all aspects
In 1977, Patsy Mink gave up her House seat to
make an unsuccessful run for the US Senate, but in 1990 she was
re-elected to the House. Her hard work is obvious as she serves on a
variety of House Committees and Subcommittees. She has accomplished
much in sustaining the American Spirit.
IRENE BLATNIK -- ERA
pioneer from Illinois dies at age 82
Irene Blatnik --died in February at the age of
82. Irene was an ERA pioneer from Illinois..She was president of the
first ERA coalition ( ERA Central Illinois) in 1972, was co-founder
of the national ERA Summit formed with the National Woman's Party.
VFA member, Dr Allie Corbin Hixson, says that Irene was a presence
at every march, demonstration and meeting. She gave generously of
her time, talents and money for ERA passage. We add Irene's name to the list of pioneer
feminists to be honored posthumously.
Betty was a leader in
the marriage and divorce area. She co-chaired that committee for
national NOW with Betty Berry. But in CT she was into every area of
feminism. You can say she died in battle, as she was president of
Hartford NOW last year. She led the Connecticut delegation to the
1977 National Women's Conference in Houston . To recount all she did
for feminism is impossible -- as a human being she was one of the
kindest, most generous and non-judgmental . A tall, athletic
Sagittarian, she was humble but aristocratic, a no nonsense, no
frills activist. And she was brilliant! Eighty is a long life, but
her mind was at its peak, and oh, if she could have lived another
ten years! There's no one I know to offer condolences to. Send your
vibes to the ether ..Who knows, maybe there is a feminist heaven
somewhere... Love, Jacqui
PS -- She was honored in 1994 with Betty Berry
and others for her work on marriage and divorce at the event we did
with Monica Getz and the Coalition for Family Justice in Irvington
on the Hudson, and again with the NOW pioneers in NYC at the Armory
DOROTHY HAENER, A
FOUNDER OF NOW,
DIED JANUARY 6, 2001 IN
Dorothy's niece, Marie
Haener-Patti, emails : "I am sorry to tell you that my Aunt Dorothy
died this morning, January 6, 2001. We all love and will miss her
so, as well as treasure the hard work and progress that she made in
the women's rights, civil rights, and labor movements. She was
lucid, although sleepy from pain medicine, right up until the end.
Her death, as was her life, was on her own terms."
We recieved many emails, unfortunately not all
were able to be shared before her death. I have printed them out and
will have the messages in a binder for our family to read at the
funeral home. It will be a consolation to our family that so many
have thought so well of Dorothy."
Dorothy was loved and respected. She was a
great supporter of VFA from the first, and attended the first event
when we honored Catherine East. VFA honored her in Washington in
1994, and again with the NOW founders on the 30th anniversary of NOW
's founding in 1996.
Dorothy long suffered from Parkinson's disease,
which limited her activism, but she was involved with the union
almost to the end, this time with the rights of seniors. Her death
was due to heart failure. VFA asks members who knew her or of her
work to send your memories for our tribute to her for
Dorothy was a dedicated, dignified, indomitable
and fiercely loyal force within the movement -- one of those pillars
of NOW that kept it from collapsing through some tenuous times.
Ida F. Davidoff EdD.
Passed away May 11, 2001. Marital and Family
Therapist and Lecturer on healthy aging. Memorial Service 4pm, June
8th at her home. Donations in lieu of flowers to the Banyon Tree
Fund c/o The Fairfield County Foundation, 523 Danbury Road, Wilton,
Dr. Ida Davidoff was recently on a
LIFETIME TV show featuring seven
women, ages 95 to 105. Ida, who was honored by VFA in Spring, 1994
in Washington, wrote "I wore my VFA medal to the first private
her doctorate from Columbia at age 58, after raising her children,
and was then an associate professor of psychiatry and psychology at
Albert Einstein University. She later opened her own practice as a
marriage counselor. Particularly interested in women in transition,
she founded Woman's
Place to help train and support women in their new
At age 96,
she was still seeing clients for marriage counseling, taking singing
lessons, was writing a book and is active in professional and Jewish
Elaine Lytel passed on January of 2000 --
Elaine was a longtime NOW member in Syracuse NY. Former NOW
president and current vice president of Greater Syracuse NOW and NOW
colleragues of Elaine were pondering an appropriate tribute and
member, Robert Seidenberg, recalled the play she'd written in 1981
about Margaret Sanger. So, this past March Greater Syracuse NOW
produced Elaine's play, "Woman Rebel." and, with the Syracuse
Community Theatre a la Carte" held a reading which attracted a large
crowd . Elaine's children, David and Laurie have agreed that the
play script should be made available to anyone interested in
producing a staged reading. Contact Laurie Lytel 702-363-5626 or
Karen DeCrow 315-682-2563.
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Florynce Kennedy, a
lawyer and political activist
Her flamboyant attire and sometimes outrageous
comments drew attention to her fierce struggle for civil rights and
'feminism, died on Thursday -- December 23, 2000 -- in her Manhattan
apartment. She was 84. Known to everyone as Flo, recognizable
everywhere in cowboy hat and pink sunglasses, she was one of the
first black women to graduate from Columbia Law School, where she
was admitted after threatening a discrimination suit. She fought in
the courts and on the streets for abortion rights, represented Black
Panthers, was a founding member of the National Women's Political
Caucus and led a mass urination by women protesting a lack of
women's restrooms at Harvard.
"If you found a cause for
the downtrodden of somebody being abused someplace, by God, Flo
Kennedy would be there," former Mayor David N. Dinkins of New York
said yesterday. People magazine in 1974 called her "the biggest,
loudest and, indisputably, the rudest mouth on the battleground
where feminist activists and radical politics join in mostly common
Emily Jane Goodman of New York State Supreme Court said Ms. Kennedy
gave women courage. "She showed a whole generation of us the right
way to live our lives," Justice Goodman said. Friends like Gloria
Steinem reveled in her razor-sharp wit. Ms. Steinem, who lectured
with Ms. Kennedy in the 1970's, said a man in the audience would all
too often stand up and demand, "Are you lesbians?" (photo: Bettye Lane) Ms. Kennedy would
respond that it depended. "Are you my alternative?" she would ask.
Ms. Steinem said by phone from Hawaii yesterday, "She understood
what Emma Goldman understood: the revolution, or it isn't a
Wilson, president of the Ms. Foundation, yesterday called Ms.
Kennedy "one of the most wonderfully outrageous pioneers of feminism
in America." Florynce Rae Kennedy, the second of five daughters, was
born on Feb. 11, 1916, in Kansas City, Mo. Her father was a Pullman
porter and later owned a taxi business. He once stood up with a
shotgun to members of the Ku Klux Klan who wanted to drive him from
a home he had bought in a mainly white neighborhood.
In her autobiography, "Color Me Flo: My Hard
Life and Good Times" (1976), she said her parents almost never
criticized their daughters. In fact, they could seemingly do almost
no wrong. "We were taught very early in the game that we didn't have
to respect the teachers, and if they threatened to hit us, we could
act as if they weren't anybody we had to pay any attention to," she
graduating from high school, Ms. Kennedy opened a hat shop in Kansas
City with her sisters. Within a few years, she was involved in her
first political protest, helping organize a boycott when the local
Coca-Cola bottler refused to hire black truck drivers.
After the death of her
mother, Zella, from cancer, Ms. Kennedy and her sister Grayce moved
to New York. Ignoring those who urged her to become a teacher, she
enrolled in pre-law courses at Columbia University. "I find that the
higher you aim, the better you shoot," she wrote.
She applied to
Columbia Law School, but was refused admission. She was told the
reason was not that she was black, but that she was a woman. Justice
Goodman said she answered, "To my friends at the National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People, it all sounds the
same." After threatening a lawsuit, Ms. Kennedy was admitted. She
was one of eight women and the only black in her class. She
graduated in 1951 and worked briefly for a Manhattan law firm before
opening her own law office in 1954. Business was not good, and she
had to take a job at Bloomingdale's one Christmas to pay the rent.
One of her cases
involved representing the estates of the jazz greats Billie Holiday
and Charlie Parker to recover money owed them by record companies.
Even though she won the cases, the experience soured her on the law.
"Handling the Holiday and Parker estates taught me more than I was
really ready for about government and business delinquency and the
hostility and helplessness of the courts," she wrote. "Not only was
I not earning a decent living, there began to be a serious question
in my mind whether practicing law could ever be an effective means
of changing society or even of simple resistance to oppression."
She turned to
political activism, setting up an organization called the Media
Workshop in 1966 to fight racism in journalism and advertising.
Picketing an advertising agency led to the protesters' being invited
up- stairs to state their case. She said, "Ever since I've been able
to say, 'When You want to get to the suites, start in the streets.'"
Her strategy became to go after the biggest
targets possible. "Grass-roots organizing is like climbing into bed
with a malaria patient in order to show how much you love him or
her, then catching malaria yourself," she wrote. "I say if you want
to kill poverty, go to Wall Street and kick -or disrupt."
Increasingly, her legal cases were almost always political.
"Sweetie," she said, "if you're not living on the edge, then you're
taking up space."
In 1966, she represented H. Rap Brown, the
civil rights leader. In 1968, she sued the Roman Catholic Church for
what she viewed as interference with abortion.
In 1969, she helped
represent 21 Black Panthers on trial in Manhattan for conspiracy to
commit bombings, among other things. They were eventually acquitted,
but during the trial she used them for another purpose.
She and Ms. Goodman,
not then a judge, and others were renting a house on Fire Island.
They decided to take the Panthers to a community on the island for a
dinner at a restaurant that did not accept blacks or Jews. It
created quite a commotion, the intended effect. But afterward, Ms.
Goodman asked if it was all that important, compared with the life
and death issues at stake in the trial.
Ms. Kennedy gave an emphatic yes. "Her point
was that you have to fight on all the fronts all the time," Justice
Other fronts included founding the Feminist
Party in 1971. Its first act was to nominate Representative Shirley
Chisholm, Democrat of New York, for president.
In 1967, Ms. Kennedy
attended a rally against the Vietnam War in Montreal. Bobby Seale,
the Black Panther, was not allowed to speak. " I went berserk," she
wrote. "I took the platform and started yelling and hollering." An
invitation for Ms. Kennedy to speak in Washington followed, and a
20-year lecturing career was born. She made $3,500 a lecture at her
peak. Ms. Steinem called her lectures with Ms. Kennedy on the
college circuit "the Thelma and Louise of the 70's." Ms. Steinem
said, "I definitely speak first because after Flo I would have been
1957, Ms. Kennedy married Charles Dye, a writer 10 years her junior.
He died a few years later. "Anyone who marries a drunk Welshman
doesn't deserve sympathy," she once said. Her views on the
exclusivity of marriage were not much brighter. "Why would you lock
yourself in the bathroom just because you have to go three times a
day," she wrote. Ms. Kennedy is survived by three sisters, Joy
Kennedy Banks of East Orange, N.J., Faye Kennedy Daly of Honolulu
and Grayce Kennedy Bayles of Queens.
As her health failed, her spirit did not. In
her autobiography, she wrote: "I'm just a loud-mouthed, middle-aged
colored lady with a fused spine and three feet of intestines
missing, and a lot of people think I'm crazy. Maybe you do too, but
I never stopped to wonder why I'm not like other people. The mystery
to me is why more people aren't like me."
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EVELYN HARRISON - 1910-2000 Washington,
COHORT OF ELEANOR
ROOSEVELT, CHAMPION OF EQUALITY FOR WOMEN AND MINORITIES
Harrison, "Evie" to her friends, was ill and couldn't make our event
April 28, when she was to be honored by VFA. Optimistically, we
scheduled her for an award in Spring of 2001. It wasn't to be.
Evie was in the Civil
Service throughout four administrations, and she used her position
to further initiatives that supported the rights, that women enjoy
Eastwood, a founder of NOW and vice president of VFA, writes:
"I got to know Evie in the mid-60's when we
served on a government committee to make recommendations to the new
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on interpreting the sex
discrimination provisions of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964. The most difficult issue was whether EEOC should insist that
Title VII's equal opportunity requirements overrode the provisions
of state laws that provided special protections and restrictions on
women's employment. Of the three on the committee, I favored
equality without regard to the state protective laws, while the
third person wanted to preserve the state laws. Evie advocated full
equality for women, which became the committee's recommendation, and
the recommendation of the Citizen's Advisory Council on the Status
of Women to the EEOC.
Evie served on several top level Boards,
Commissions and Committees while working in the White House
Personnel Office . She worked closely with Eleanor Roosevelt on the
President's Commission on the Status of Women, was on the Advisory
Committee of the Office of Economic Opportunity and contributed
greatly to the White House Conference on Civil Rights, Equal
Employment Opportunities and the Aging. After leaving federal
service she became a consultant to the General Council of HUD, the
Bicentennial Commission and the National Council of Negro Women .
Mary says Evie was an
unflappable, cool-headed, incisive thinker who was always on the
lookout for qualified women for high-ranking jobs. She was a mentor
and role model for many, including a member of her staff, VFA's own
mentor, the late Catherine East. Evie had an engineeriing degree,
was a gourmet cook and took in stray cats. She was awarded many
times for her great work for women. President Kennedy presented her
with the Federal Women's Award. VFA will honor her posthumously in
Spring of 2001.
We sadly report that we've just heard of the
death of feminist anthropolgist, Ruby Rohrlich in Washington. We're
awaiting news from Ti Grace Atkinson of a memorial service to be
held for her in New York City on February 24,
Contact Jacqui Ceballos for further details:
Professor Emerita, City
University of New York
The George Washington University
Dr. Ruby Rohrlich has
written 17 articles on the anthropology of women, and is now working
on a book about two Italian Jews, who were friends and who survived
the Holocaust -- Rita Levi-Montalcini and Primo Levi, and the city
of Turin in which they grew up. Rohrhch has participated in and
organized many academic conferences and seminars on the anthropology
of women. She has lectured at Columbia, Dartmouth, Boston
University, San Francisco State, UC Santa Cruz, and NYU. She
instituted her course on the Anthropology of Women in 1972. It was
probably the first feminist anthropology course offered in the U.S.
Publications --- Books
Dissertation accepted for publication by
eminent anthropologist, Colin Turnbill, The Puerto Ricans: Culture
Change and Language Deviance, 1974 Women Cross-Culturdft: Change and
Challenge Editor and Contributor, 1975 Women in Search of Utopia:
Mavericks and Myth-Makers Editor and Contributor, 1984 Resisting the
Holocaust, Editor and Contributor, 1998
Founder and President of the Women's Institute
for Freedom of the Press and editor/publisher of Media Report to
Women died of a heart attack in Washington, D.C. Monday, July 19,
2002 -- a month before her 79th birthday. Donna, who was honored at
VFA's May 6, 2002 event in D.C., had a long history of civil rights,
peace and feminist activism.
In 1963 with Dagmar Wilson and Russell Nixon,
she applied for a U.S. visa for a Japanese peace leader and was
supoened by the House Un-American Activities Committee. The three
demanded a public hearing and were indicted and convicted for
Contempt of Congress, which was overthrown by the U.S.Court of
Appeals in 1966.
She believed that the mass media monopoloy
controlled by men of the wealthy class, prevented the free flow of
ideas, and didn't take women's issues or contributions seriously,
and that the radical press was just as biased. So she concentrated
her efforts on the media, first organizing Americans for Media
Access then forming the Women's Institute for Freedom of the Press
and publishing Media Report to Women, now run by daughter, Martha
Leslie . One of the first members of Washington, D.C.'s Women's
Liberation, Donna received her doctorate from Howard University in
Our hearts go out to her children, Martha, Dana
Densmore, Indra Dean and Mark. Donna, we will miss your warmth, your
charm, drive, dedication and brilliance! A memorial celebration of
Donna Allen's life and work was held in Sptember 1999 at the
National Woman's Party Headquarters, Sewall-Belmont House, 144
Constitution Ave., NE, Washington, DC.
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GOLDBERG,1936-1998 -- A REBEL WITH A CAUSE.
The woman who started the first legal
outpatient abortion clinic in the country, ( in New York), who
battled fearlessly against the crazy-quilt series of laws that had
produced an underground of abortion providers and counselors
funneling poor women into states where abortion was legal, left us
last November 29 . The founder & president of the National
Women's Health Coalition, which became the International Women's
Health Coalition , she died in Washington of renal disease. A native
of New York, graduate of Brooklyn college and Columbia School of
Journalism, she started her career writing for Newsweek, Newsday and
the Herald Tribune and was a contributor to the best-selling sex and
mystery spoof, "Naked Came the Stranger."
Training materials she
produced on women's health and family planning for the Department of
Health and Human Services and other agencies were translated into
five languages and used in many countries. She implemented relief
programs for rape victims in Bangladesh and Cyprus and started a
national hot line for abused women and children. In 1975 she managed
United Nations Conference on the Status of Women. She joined the
George Washington University Medical Center in 1992 as executive
editor and assistant director of the public relations office. In '94
she received the Robert G Fenley Award for medical writing from the
Association of American Medical Colleges.
We never had a chance
to honor her while alive, but she will not be forgotten. VFA will
have a special honor for Merle and others whose incredible
achievements give them a place in history.
ANNE FLORANT 1911-1999
Anne Florant of New
York City, a member of New York NOW and Veteran Feminists of
America, died April 14, 1999, of cancer. This came to us recently
from Anne's niece, Ronni Atkins, who responded to our mailings with
this sad news.
Anne's major work was in the peace movement
with the United Nations. she also worked with theatre
She helped organize CANDU (Chelsea Against
Nuclear Destruction United), and was a major planner of many
conferences, including the recent successful conference on Women
Fighting Poverty and the renewed celebration of International
Women's Day in the United States.
A member of the Women's International League
for Peace and Freedom for 16 years. She served 6 years on the
National Board of WILPF both as vice president and as chairperson of
its Policy Committee, attending national and international
Congresses and participating in campaign strategy and decision
making. She was a member of the WPLIF UN team for 16 years covering
human rights and was on the Committee on Southern
Her interest in human rights began early on. At
a time when interracial marriages were rare, Anne married an
Afro-American, Lionel Florant, who worked for the State Department
and the U.S. Army. When living in the south , she tried to "pass" as
a black women to make things easier for them. Her husband, who
visited black troops during WWII to give them moral support, was
saddened to see how they were treated, died in 1945. Anne then
helped raise the three children of her brother, Paul, and his wife,
Lillian, who had Multiple Sclorosis.
As a profession, she had worked for many years
at Columbia University in the Neuro-Physiology Department,
overseeing a large staff, editing reports,and grant proposal
applications, and supervising fund procedures.
The memorial service held at the United Nations
church on April 29, 1999 was filled with family and friends from the
UN and theatre groups she'd helped form. They remembered her as
modest and hard working , a woman who put her heart and soul into
everything she did, never taking credit. Anne lived according to her
convictions and dedicated her life to making the world a better
place. She will be missed.
DR. SHEPARD ARONSON, A
FOUNDER OF NOW, LEAVES US
Dr. Shepard Aronson, one of the movement's most
supportive male feminists, died November 10, 2003 at age 90. Shep,
as we called him, was married to Muriel Fox , a founder of NOW,
NOW"s National Chair and Public Relations VP, and today, Chair of
VFA's Board of Directors. Shep was also a founder of NOW, having
attended the first organizing meeting with Muriel, where, he loved
to report, he "baby-sat" while Muriel attended the meetings. In 1968
he was elected the first Chairman of New York NOW's Board of
was a graduate of Cornell University's Medical School. He interned
at the Jewish Hospital of Brooklyn and served an externship in
surgical pathology at New York Hospital-Cornell University Medical
Center. During World War II he was the chief of surgery at Santa
Tomas Hospital in Manila, where he was awarded the Bronze Star, the
Purple Heart and five battle ribbons.
He was a diplomate in internal medicine who had
served as chief of the endocrine clinic at New York University
Hospital; was chief of the diabetes clinic at Stuyvesant-Polyclinic;
an attending physician at New York Infirmary-Beekman Downtown
Hospital and Doctors Hospital, an attending physician and consultant
to the neurosurgical service at St. Barnabas Hospital in New York
City; an associate visiting physician at Bellevue Hospital; a
consultant in internal medical at the Rusk Institute at NYU Medical
Center; an assistant attending physician at NYU Hospital; and chief
of the Good Samaritan Hospital department of metabolic diseases and
diabetes clinic. In 1981 he organized and co-chaired the New York
County Medical Society's joint committees of nurses and physicians,
the first in Manhattan and one in which nurses were equal partners
and co-chaired with a physician.
presents the Veteran Feminist of America Medal of Honor to Dr.
A life member of the American Medical
Association, he was an associate of the American College of Legal
Medicine and held life memberships in the American College of
Physicians and the Pan American Medical Association; was active on
the board of the New York Diabetes Association and lectured and was
widely published on endocrinology and diabetes and was a medical
adviser to Planned Parenthood of New York.
Shep was a
distinguished, tall, jovial man, with a sense of humor. When David
Susskind interviewed him as part of a panel of feminist men in 1972,
he asked Shep how he would feel if his wife made more money than he
did. Shep's reply -- "Relaxed." He often related his early (
unconscious ) chauvinistic comments, like the time a New York NOW
member asked , " Shep, why do you always talk to us as though we are
children?" " I gave the classic male answer ", he'd continue ,
laughing at himself " Because you act like children."
While we grieve his
passing we will always honor him for the support he gave Muriel and
all of the feminist movement. If heaven can be on earth, it would be
fair to say that he reaped the fruits of his sowings, for he was
blessed with a long, productive and happy life.
The family held a
small service for him in their home in Tappan, New York, and there
will be a Memorial service in March of 2004. Shep leaves, besides,
Muriel, his daughter, Dr. Lisa Aronson Fontes and son, Dr. Eric
Aronson, and three grandchildren.
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Frances Arick Kolb
On January 12, 1991,
Fran Kolb died of breast cancer in Malboro, Massachusetts. Fran was
a national authority on gender equity and women's issues - and an
early and longtime activist in the National Organization for Women.
I was proud to call her both a friend and a mentor.
Fran was a founder of the Pittsburgh chapter of
NOW, an activist in New Jersey NOW, a national board member, and the
director of the Eastern Region from 1971 to 1974. She chaired one of
NOW's most memorable regional conferences - Wonder Woman Conference;
No Myth America, held on Miss America weekend in Atlantic City in
When I was a brand new NOW member, and later a
brand new first state coordinator for Maine NOW, it was Fran who
traveled to us in the "hinterlands", held our hands, and made us
believe that we could organize ourselves - and do it without rancor.
Fran made us believe that together we could indeed make remarkable
change in this world for women - and for equality.
In the late 1970's she was the first Chair, as
a volunteer, of NOW's Economic Boycott Campaign to put pressure on
unratified states to pass the ERA. It was an incredibly successful
campaign. After her activism on the national level subsided, as a
Bunting fellow at Radcliffe College's Schlesinger Library in 1979,
she began to write a history of the first ten years of the National
Organization for Women. This invaluable contribution to the history
of the modern women's movement is nearly ready for
Whatever words I might find to say goodbye pale
beside these that follow here - excerpted from the eulogy written
for her by her family, which included her husband Fred and her
Fran inspired those around her to focus their
energies on correcting some of the injustices of our world. She
loved getting up every morning and going to work. Her commitment to
gender equity, women's history, and the status of women were her
consuming interests. Many looked up to her as their role model. This
included her coworkers, her family and friends. And what a wonderful
friend she was. Nothing was too difficult to do for those she
She was a woman who contributed so much to the
world, and could have contributed so much more, but she was cut down
in her prime by breast cancer. When the health problems of 52% of
our population are ignored, we need to examine the priorities of our
society. How many women have been doomed to early death by breast
cancer because we are not paying attention to the need for more
money for research for this specific problem?"
When she was campaigning for the national board
of NOW in 1975 Fran articulated her own goal - "a society free of
sexism, racism, and classism…Feminism seeks a new world, not a piece
of the old one, which is so tainted by bigotry, intolerance, and
inhumanity." Her life's work did indeed bring us closer to a new,
The movement for women's freedom and equality
was made richer by her life. We'll miss you Fran.
Memorial donations may be made to the Dr.
Frances A. Kolb Memorial Fund of Schlesinger Library, Harvard
University, care of Dr. Alfred Kolb, 153 Marlboro, MA
Prepared by Lois Galgay
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Reported to VFA
ELAINE GORDON died in Miami
this week of cancer. Elaine was an early NOW activist in the
Miami area. After a divorce and three children she earned a
law degree, ran and won for the House of
Representatives and worked miracles there for many years
She was named "the most
effective state representative in the
country." Elaine was honored with NOW activists
at the 30th Anniversary NOW celebration in New York in
November, 1996. She was 74 years old.
More on Elaine Gordon
to follow shortly.
Mary-Scott Welch, 75,
Writer, Editor & Official of NOW
By BRUCE LAMBERT
Published: September 26, 1995
Mary-Scott Welch, a
writer and feminist leader who fostered the concept of networking to
advance a woman's career, died on Friday at her home in Manhattan.
She was 75.
The cause was cancer, said
Hubert Pryor, her companion.
Ms. Welch wrote "Networking: The Great New Way
for Women to Get Ahead" (Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1980) in an
era when more women were competing for jobs traditionally dominated
Networking, through individual
contacts and professional organizations, became an important
technique for women to get career advice and make connections. Such
contacts also helped offset the competitive advantage men often
enjoyed through their own "old boy" network.
Ms. Welch wrote books
on varied topics, including wilderness trips, cooking, travel for
teen-age girls and etiquette. She was also a freelance magazine
writer whose work was published in Redbook, Esquire, Ladies Home
Journal, Woman's Day, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Reader's Digest and
Modern Maturity. Ms. Welch also worked as an editor at Pageant and
Look magazines and was editor in chief of Homemaker's Digest.
She served on advisory
boards for Cornell University's Institute for Women and Work and for
the National Organization for Women. In the 1970's, she was the
coordinator of NOW's Rape Prevention Committee in New York City.
Ms. Welch, who was known as Scotty, was born in
Chicago. After graduating from the University of Illinois, she was
in the first group of Waves commissioned by the Navy during World
of her career, she lived in New York City. She was married to
Barrett Welch, a marketing and advertising executive, from 1943
until his death in 1981.
Her survivors include a son, Farley, of
Portland, Ore.; three daughters, Laurie Welch of Washington,
Margaret Welch of Seattle, and Molly Welch of
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