Veteran Feminists of America 





September 10, 1943 - December 5, 2014
Grace Welch

Beautiful Linda Lamel was one of the first real live feminists I came to know way back in 1970, when I joined NOW the National Organization for Women – the day the founding New York City Chapter of NOW launched the March for Women’s Rights down Fifth Avenue during a working day, AUGUST 26, the anniversary date of passage of the 19th amendment, Women’s Right to Vote – Suffrage for Women!  There was certainly a feeling of electricity in the air, and I wanted to be marching with these feisty women, whom I had yet to meet – I was tied to a job in Glen Cove. In frustration I called NOW New York City and was told to contact Nassau County NOW.

In those days NOW chapter meetings and executive board meetings were held in the homes of NOW members, and I recall that Nassau NOW was headed by a woman who lived in Great Neck; I believe her name was Rita Wrobleski, with a Ph.D. and taught at Stony Brook University, which also impressed me!  It was at one of my first meetings in a Great Neck home that I met Linda Lamel – she was Vice-President, and taught at Farmingdale High School.   I, and my husband, Frank, who was also a member of NOW, adored Linda – she was beautiful, with a radiant smile, intelligent, feisty, and her organizational skills rapidly built the chapter into a force to be reckoned with. 

It was during Linda’s tenure as the second President that the rapidly growing NOW chapter started to meet at the Ethical Culture Society in Garden City.   Linda’s feminist awareness served her well as shop steward of her Teachers Union where she brought action against the school on behalf of a teacher’s pregnancy, persevering to a winning conclusion for the teacher.  This paved the way for all future teachers facing dismissal because of pregnancy.  Linda saved the day!  This case may have whetted Linda’s appetite for the study of Law, which she undertook while still teaching!

Linda’s presidency was followed by Betty Schlein, who is sorry she cannot be with us today.  Betty sends her greetings and reminded me that the Schlein and Lamel families were very close in the 70’s and that toddler, young Diana was a regular in her Merrick home.

Linda’s activism was well noted by National NOW.  I recently spoke with Jacqui Cebellos, who was an officer of New York City NOW at the time of the March, and Betty Freidan’s right hand coordinator.  Jacqui went on to found the VFA – Veteran Feminists of America, a national organization to honor those who were instrumental in starting and fostering recognition for the women and men who were pivotal in passage of legislation which has affected all our lives through these last forty – fifty years – including Roe v Wade, Lilly Ledbetter Act – Equal pay for Equal work – and in New York State you can now discuss pay rate scales with co-employees without fear of dismissal, now in the New York State Senate for approval.  Jacqui Cebellos sends her greetings from Phoenix, Arizona, where she now lives, and remembers well Linda as a leading light of Long Island Feminist Activism – and a fighter for women’s rights – first as a teacher, then as Union Shop Steward, then as a Lawyer, whose activism touched the lives of thousands.  Linda was honored, along with other feminists, at a VFA Celebration at Columbia-Barnard several years ago.

I’m sure that Linda would agree that there is still much work to be done – and I, along with millions of other feminists – female, male, Gay-Bi – Straight – Trans – black, white, yellow, red  -- want to see a Feminist Woman President of these United States!  - When that happens, in November 2016, I can see Linda’s radiant smile in approval!


COMMENTS: Grace Welch: