They took to the heavens
knowing they had made a
difference in this world




Cathryn Adamsky

Dolores Alexander


Harriet Cooper Alpern


Muriel Arceneaux






Nikki Beare



Patricia Hill Burnett




Elizabeth Chittick



Rhonda Copelon

Judith Lightfoot Cormack



June Bundy Csida


Mary Daly





Minnette F. Doderer



Evelyn Lucille Fike

Shulamith Firestone




Gerald (Gerry) Gardner




Richard Graham











Lillian Kozak

Lawrence Lader


Gerder Lerner

 Sally Lunt



Joan Michel


Joyce Darren Miller





Louise Ballerstedt Raggio




Alice S. Rossi




Dr. Eleanor Schetlin


Joy Simonson



Joan C. Steinberg Neuwirth


Mary Thom

Maggie Tripp


Beatrice Urich

Winnie Wackwitz



Mary-Scott Welch


Dell Williams








































 Irwin Oreskes, a VFA member, died March 1, 2013 in Manhattan at age 86 of a brain hemorrhage.
A member of the City University of New York doctoral faculty in biochemistry until his retirement from Hunter College in 2003, in 1970 Dr. Oreskes founded the college's Medical Laboratory Sciences Program, the largest clinical technology program in New York state. That program was one of the building blocks for the School of Health Sciences, which opened in 1974, and served as the school's dean for several years.

Irwin is survived by his wife, Susan; sons Michael and Irwin; daughters Naomi and Rebecca Oreskes, and five grandchildren.

His funeral will be held on Sunday at Jewish Community Chapel on Amsterdam Avenue, New York City.

Professor Oreskes was in touch with me often, as he was writing a biography of his mother, Clara de Miha, a beloved "grandmother" of early activists in New York City.



Joyce Darren Miller: First Lady of Labor

Joyce Miller being honored in New Orleans (1983)

VFA sadly announces the death of Joyce Miller who passed away June 30, 2012. She had suffered a stroke the day before.

Born June 19, 1928 Joyce, who was from Chicago, worked for decades to improve the conditions of working women. She was an organizer and co founder of the Coalition for Labor Union Women ( 1972-74). At the founding convention she was elected East Coast VP, and later elected national president, a position she held from 1978 to 1993. Workers). At every CLUW Convention the Joyce D. Miller Award is given to the chapter that has increased membership most significantly during the preceding period of time.

She was Executive Officer of and the first woman to sit on the AFL-CIO Executive Board, and a pioneer in the creation of daycare for working families. She served in the Clinton Administration as Executive Director of the Glass Ceiling Commission. She joined NOW and Naral in the early 70’s and VFA when it began in 1993. Over the years she’d lobbied, marched and wrote letters in support of the ERA .

Joyce received dozens of honors and awards, including VFA’s medal of honor. She is survived by her sons Joshua and Adam and daughter, Rebecca.

Comments Jacqui Ceballos

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VFA mourns the loss of Inéz Casiano, who passed away on June 28, 2011. In October 1966 she became a founding member of NOW and a member of the first Board of Directors. She resigned from the NOW Board to join the EEOC staff, where she wrote a program for Hispanic Americans. In the 1970s, she co-founded the National Conference of Puerto Rican Women, and was a director of the National Puerto Rican Coalition. Inez leaves her husband, Robert Hardy, a daughter, Anita, two grandsons and this advice -- "Every day must be joyful.” A celebration of her life will take place some time in August. For information, contact:

Inez Casiano wrote her bio for VFA just a few days before she became ill last year. In her memory we feature her as July 2011 Feminist of the Month.


Michele Ceballos, Inéz Casiano, her husband Bob Harding, Jacqui Ceballos, Phoenix 2009

I was born in November 1926 in Brooklyn, New York. My parents were from Puerto Rico and both spoke, read, and wrote Spanish and English when they arrived. They met and married in Brooklyn in 1925. I was the first of their four children. .

My father died when I was 7. My mother raised us on the allocation from the AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children). Education was a “given.” From age 17 I supported the family, working 48 hours a week at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and at other clerical jobs, while attending night college with 100% college tuition scholarship. I had to pay for registration, books, etc., but had no money for warm - or dress clothes and shoes. School was very far and I had to travel on buses late at night. I was a member of District 65 of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union 1948-1975.

I married in 1948. A year later, my first and only child (a daughter) was born. My husband was abusive and even though he eventually made money in the music business, he never supported us. I divorced him and married again, this time to a man who expected me to support him while he went to school. After eight years I divorced him and continued working full time and going to school while raising my daughter. In 1960 I received my BBA from the CCNY's Baruch School of Business Administration, one of the few women to receive a BBA at the time, had several entry-level professional jobs and took courses toward an MBA.

In 1965 I took my teenage daughter to Caracas where I was Managing Director of a market and opinion research company in six countries. Six months later my daughter contracted Hepatitis A and I resigned and returned to New York.

By now I knew I wanted to do something to help people, so I took a job in the Puerto Rican Community Development Project. At a National Council of Churches conference I met Dr. Anna Arnold Hedgeman, the famed civil rights advocate who had been the executive director of the National Council for A Permanent Fair Employment Practices Commission. She became my life-long friend and mentor. In October of 1966 she took me to the organizing meeting of the National Organization for Women (NOW), and thus I became a founding member of NOW. I was also a member of the first NOW Board of Directors. Soon afterward, I was recruited to a policy position in the U.S. EEOC and had to give up my NOW Board position.

In August 1968 I became Social Science adviser to the U.S. Secretary of Labor as a GS-15 where I remained until my retirement in 1990. At one time, I was the highest level Puerto Rican woman in the U.S. Civil Service. I am a graduate of Class XIII of the Federal Executive Institute – the first Hispanic and the only woman in a class of 57. The program was usually limited to “supergrades” (GS-16 to GS-18), but there were very few women in those grades at that time.

In 1980 I became Chief, Division of Program Development & Enrollee Support in Job Corps. In that position, I supervised a staff of 14 professional and 3 clerical employees; developed, justified and managed $100,000,000 annual Federal budget for purchase of contract services and materials and directed the monitoring of contractors performance at over 100 Job Corps and related facilities that provided residence and employment training for 44,000 youths, and directed the development of program guidelines, educational standards and materials.

My last three years in the DOL were on an IPA in the Arizona government: first, in the Department of Economic Security where I served in the mentoring program, and then in the Governor's Office of Women's Services where, with a committee, I developed and produced “Arizona Women's Guide,” a comprehensive guide to resources – the first in any state.

My volunteer activities and job responsibilities have centered on improving the opportunities for women and minorities, while recognizing that stereotyping diminishes everyone regardless of gender, race or ethnicity. In pursuit of these objectives, I have testified before the U.S. Congress, participated in Project Transition at the DOD, and recruited panel members for the 1970 White House Conference on Children and Youth. In

Inéz Casiano (right) receives recognition at NOW's 40th anniversary celebration during the 2006 National NOW Conference. (Pictured at left is then-Action VP Melody Drnach.)

1969 I organized and assembled Puerto Rican leaders from across the US to prepare testimony and an amendment to include all Hispanics in proposed legislation which would establish an Interagency Committee on Mexican-American Affairs. I submitted written testimony to the Senate Committee on Government Operations, Subcommittee on Government Reorganization. The change was adopted. I also testified before Senate subcommittees on two other occasions.

In 1979 Mayor Marion Barry appointed me to a four-year term on the Board of Trustees of the University of

the District of Columbia where I served as Vice Chair. I was on the Board of Directors of NOWLDEF (1979-1987); D.C. Mayor's Advisory committee on Narcotics Addiction (1972-1973); Honorary Member "Federacion de las Mujeres Professionistas y de Negocias de Mexico (1989-1992).

In 1975 I married Robert Warren Hardy 1975. We will soon celebrate our 35th anniversary. We have lived in the Phoenix , Arizona area where I belong to the Scottsdale/Phoenix chapter of NOW, and VFA, which I joined in 1993. We have a busy life in Phoenix, attending lectures and seeing friends. I’ve attended VFA reunions and spoken about feminism with Jacqui Ceballos at the University of Arizona.

Bob and I have traveled to Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, and everywhere met people and observed how they deal with the common needs of everyday life. We took our two grandsons to Australia, China, Singapore, Thailand, and Japan to make sure they have a broad world view. This, and education, is our legacy to them.

Condolences to Robert Warren,

You may send a donation in memory of Inez to VFA, PO Box 44551, Phoenix, AZ 85064. Your donation will be acknowledged at the August event in her memory.

Comments: Jacqui Ceballos

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KATE SWIFT - Co-author (with Casey Miller) of Handbook of Nonsexist Writing Dies at age 87.

At 5:40 AM on Saturday, May 7, 2011, we lost an early pioneer in the Women's Movement, a Feminist Veteran, an author/editor, photographer, mentor and friend. Barbara ‘Kate’ Swift of East Haddam, CT gently gave up her battle with cancer and left this earth much in the same way she lived - in total control, and with an unmistakable elegance.

In the early 70‘s, Kate worked, as per Elizabeth Isele, ‘to raise editorial questions that shook the foundations of standard English language usage as we had known it. What began with her "simple" copy-editing assignment, developed over a period of years into a ground-breaking essay for
MS magazine, an original article for the New York Times Magazine, and consequently developed into two unique books on gender-equality in language.’

Kate and her partner Casey Miller quietly worked out of view of the nay-sayers, raising issues that needed to be addressed about how our language shaped culture and how culture shaped language -- both to the oppression and abasement of women. Kate and Casey questioned the sexist nature of accepted English usage; and their work was - and still is - something that has altered our complacent perception of language as it has harbored the ‘continual humiliation of half of the world.’ (
New York Times Book Review, Sunday, July 4th, 1976)

to Kate, with love from Gina Walsh

Two weeks ago
we brought you in to die.
Definite, unwavering, non-apologetic,
you wanted what you wanted
and didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer.

You had a time-frame in your mind,
a reason for your decision -
it was so much like all of the previous ones
in your life: the decisions
of who you were,
what was right and fair,
whom you believed in and championed,
the people you loved, and
those you didn’t.

This time you’re fighting
for what you want and deserve,
but the battle is bigger and longer
than you
had imagined.

Two weeks ago
we brought you in
and have watched
as you’ve slowly slipped away
in your uninterrupted journey
toward forever.

Whether striding along Main Street in East Haddam, captaining her skiff Daisy on the Kennebec, riding the bus down to Washington to march and fight for women’s rights, or sharing martini’s on her porch at Eastward, Kate had the undeniably open and loving, affirming and sensible demeanor of one who was fully at peace with herself - an enviable mien, at any age, position or sex.

Thank you Kate, for your friendship and love and the times we spent together.The world is a poorer place without you.

Gina Walsh, East Haddam, CT

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Muriel Arceneaux, VFA's Feminist of the Month February 2010

Muriel Dees Arceneaux died April 22, 2011 in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Born February 18, 1926 in Finchburg, Alabama, Muriel was a graduate of Alabama College for Women and got her Master's degree at Nicholls State U in 1978. In 1958, she moved to Houma, Louisiana where she worked as a social worker and teacher and shook up the parish and the state with her incredible feminist actitivies until 2007.

Muriel told VFA last January - "In the late 1960's women were meeting to discuss the new women's movement, and I had to get involved. It seemed best to go through respected organizations rather than the radical NOW, so I joined the Business and Professional Women. The BPW had very little information about the laws that governed their second-class citizenship, so I published a newsletter to make members aware of what was going on in Louisiana and in the movement countrywide. I invited Baton Rouge activists Karlene Tierney and the late Marcella Matthews to talk to about ERA United, and Roberta Madden of the Women's Political Caucus to conduct a political action workshop. I organized a branch of ERA United, serving as a board member for the state ERA and as president of Terrebonne Parrish ERA Coalition.

On the Louisiana conference-planning committee and the Houston Conference for International Women's Year as a Louisiana representative from 1973 to 1985, she published a bulletin to inform women of political and other issues, pressured Congress for federal laws to remedy injustices toward women and assisted in drawing up a proposed legislative platform to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.

A board member of the YWCA for eight years, Muriel helped the Y develop a counseling program for battered women and train the police in handling domestic disputes and establish a women's shelter.

Elected to the Louisiana Democratic State Central Committee, for four years she assisted in the election of Louisiana women.

She founded Friends of the Library, was a docent of the Terrebonne Historical and Cultural Society, served on the Arts and Humanities Board and on the Parish Literacy Council. In 1990, after the last vote in the Louisiana legislature on an Equal Rights bill she retired and moved to Vicksburg, Mississippi to be near her daughter, Denise.

Muriel is survived by her children, Windell Richard Owens, Denise Owens-Mounger and Dorothy Arceneaux Stahr; four grandchildren and three great-grand children. She leaves this message to young people -- "People comment that the South has changed since the Civil Rights Movement, but it hasn't changed enough! This goes for every state in the union. There is still much to do. My message to young feminists: It is now up to you."

Condolences to Denise:

Comments Jacqui Ceballos:

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*TEXAS TORNADO, Louise Ballerstedt Raggio DIED January 23 , 2011 at her home in Dallas.

Known and beloved by many as the tiny “Texas Tornado,” 91-year-old Louise Raggio was credited by the late Texas Governor Ann Richards as the woman who “played a role in everything good that has happened to Texas women for the last 50 years.” The only child of poor Central Texas immigrants, Louise grew up picking watermelons on the family farm near Austin. From a family who valued education, Louise earned her way through The University of Texas at Austin. Still single at 21 and teased by a co-worker as “the old maid,” Louise soon married a charismatic liberal, Grier Raggio. After time in Austin, the couple moved to Dallas. There her husband encouraged her to study for a law degree from the night school at Southern Methodist University. With three young children to bring up, Louise entered SMU as the only woman in her law school class. In 1952, finishing near the top of her class, Louise immediately faced the demoralizing search for a job in the male-dominated legal profession. Finding no Dallas law firm willing to accept a woman, Louise took a position as the first woman criminal assistant district attorney in Dallas County. From there, she formed her own law firm, specializing in family law. By 1955 she had successfully campaigned for Texas women to serve on juries and formed an all-male task force to spend two years writing bills to remove old Texas statutes oppressively governing the rights of women.

Louise eventually changed Texas law forever, removing 44 legal restrictions to give married women equality. Through passage of the Marital Property Act of 1967, Texas women gained the right to own property, borrow money and establish businesses without their husbands’ approval. Because the new statutes worked so well, Texas adopted the Equal Rights Amendment in 1973. Louise went on to become known as the Mother of the Texas Family Code, the first completed family code in the nation. Recognized as one of the country’s top thirty attorneys specializing in family law, Louise served as chair of the family law section of the American Bar Association, governor of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the first woman elected a director of the State Bar of Texas in its 100-year history, and the first woman trustee and board chair of the Texas Bar Foundation. Long known not only as a feminist but also a humanitarian, Louise received the Jefferson Award from the American Civil Liberties Union. Because her victories in Texas helped pave the way for women in every state to gain equal access to credit and the right to start their own businesses, an annual award in her name was established by the National Association of Women Business Owners. The Dallas Women Lawyers also have established an award in her honor.

Throughout her career, Louise’s instincts have been quick to spot inequity in the world. Through the trials of bringing up three children while attending law school at night, her battles with clinical depression, financial insecurity and life-threatening health problems, as well as her personal suffering through the Communist witch hunts of the McCarthy years and professional blockades against women in law, Louise Raggio has triumphed and inspired generations of men and women to right old wrongs and bring equality to the world.

Louise leaves her three sons, Grier, Paul and Ken (who run the Raggio & Raggio Legal firm); several grandchildren and one great grandchild. Bonnie Wheeler

* Title of her autobiography written with Vivien Castleberry

According to her dear friend, Virginia Whitehill, a memorial service will be held at the First Unitarian Church, Sunday January 30 at 2 PM.
VFA honored Louise in May,1999 In Washington , DC. In March of 2010 she attended our event in Dallas . Louise will be sorely missed, but we were blessed to have her with us so long.

Comments: Jacqui Ceballos,

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VFA SADLY REPORTS THE DEATH OF KAPPIE SPENCER of lung cancer. She was 85 years old. Of Iowa she lived in Sarasota. Kappie was last month's Feminist of the Month.
To read her bio, Click here:

She leaves her children, Greg, Gary, Dane and Carol; 8 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.

There will be a service for Kappie at the
Church of the Redeemer (Sarasota, FL) this coming Saturday, Feb, 5th from 2-4 p.m. on the 2nd floor in the McIntyre Room. Sonia Pressman Fuentes will attend the service and give the family VFA's condolences.

CommentsTo: Jacqui Ceballos:

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Caroline Bird, an early hero of the Second Wave, died January 11, 2011 in Nashville, TN at the age of 96. Many of us remember Caroline, whose 1968 book, "Born Female," established her as an early icon of the new feminist movement. She not only spoke to us about her book, but often attended NYNOW chapter meetings and took an active part in discussions. We hadn't heard anything about her until this news of her demise, and sadly, VFA wasn't able to give her our medal of honor. Today we honor her for her outstanding contributions to the feminist cause.

Born Caroline Bird April 15, 1915 in NYC, Caroline started her career as a journalist during WWII, and continued as a freelance magazine writer. Her first book, "The Invisible Scar," was published in 1966;. "Born Female" published in 1968 was followed by "The Crowding Syndrome" (1972), "Everything a Woman Needs to Know to Get Paid What She's Worth" (1973, revised 1982), "The Two-Paycheck Marriage" (1979) and "Lives of Our Own" (1995). She was the chief writer for "The Spirit of Houston" (1978).

VFA sends condolences to her daughter Carol Munuez Barach, to her son, John T. Mahoney and to her two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Comments: Jacqui Ceballos

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April 28, 2010

In the first years, 1967 to 1970, Betty Friedan and the New York NOW chapter often planned demonstrations for which we sometimes needed the approval and support of the governor, Nelson Rockefeller. Evelyn Cunningham was head of his Women's Department, so we visited her office often to ask for

Evelyn and friend

favors. She not only helped us, she sometimes joined our demonstrations.

A few years later Evelyn joined Betty Friedan, Eleanor Guggenheim, Myrna Lamb and me to found the Women's Forum. She was also a founder of 100 Black Women, a very influential organization in New York. VFA honored her with Congresswoman Martha Griffiths, Gene Boyer, Betty Friedan and other feminist icons at the Sewall Belmont House in D.C. in 1994.

In the 1990s, when VFA gave many events at the Park Avenue Armory, Evelyn would take the long bus ride from her home in Harlem to attend. I last visited her at her apartment in 2005. Still the tall elegant woman, she was still interested in everything political and everything feminist. We talked about early feminist events and she recounted marching down Fifth Avenue in the March for Equality in 1970. "I saw [singer-actor] Kitty Carlisle watching from the sidewalk,” she said, “and I yelled ‘Join us’ and Kitty ran in and we two marched together." (I thought: The famed Kitty Carlisle was in our feminist march, yet we didn't include her on our mailing list? How many well-known women were really with us? We certainly needed their help!)

There were many more memories. In a moment of excitement she picked up her phone and called her former assistant, Carol Ann Taylor, who I remembered well. The young (in her early 20's) Carol was like Evelyn's granddaughter, and she, like Evelyn, approved of all we feminists were doing. Carol was now living in Miami. I still hear Evelyn's joyous voice -- "Carol, guess who is in my apartment visiting me?"

What a wonderful human being Evelyn was. I am honored to have known her. She was 94 and had lived a long productive life, but she left many who will miss her.

Jacqui Ceballos


Evelyn Cunningham, Journalist and Aide, Dies at 94

Evelyn Cunningham, a journalist who covered the birth of the 1960s civil rights movement and later served as an aide to Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller of New York, died Wednesday in Manhattan. She was 94.


Evelyn Cunningham at home in Harlem. (Librado Romero/The New York Times)

She died of natural causes at the Jewish Home and Hospital, said Gigi Freeman, her niece and only immediate survivor.

Ms. Cunningham was a reporter and editor for The Pittsburgh Courier, an influential black newspaper, from the 1940s through the early 1960s where she earned the nickname “the lynching editor” for her reporting on lynchings in the segregated South. She interviewed prominent civil rights figures, including the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.and Malcolm X, and wrote a three-part series on the King family.

In 1998, with other Courier staff members she accepted a George Polk Award for the paper’s civil rights coverage. In an interview with The New York Times at the time of the award, Ms. Cunningham recalled walking up to Eugene “Bull” Connor, the Birmingham, Ala., police commissioner who had ordered fire hoses turned on civil rights workers, and asking for an interview. He used a racial epithet and walked away.

“Actually, I didn’t anticipate he would give me the interview,” she said. “But as a reporter, I had to give it a shot.”

Ms. Cunningham was also the host of a radio show on WLIB in New York before turning to government service. She served as a special assistant to Governor Rockefeller for community relations and was named director of the Women’s Unit of the State of New York in 1969. She followed Rockefeller to Washington when he was President Gerald R. Ford’s vice president.

She was a well-known figure in Harlem for decades and a supporter of cultural institutions, Apollo Theater, the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

Appointed to numerous government task forces and commissions, Mayor Michael Bloomberg named her to the New York City Commission on Women’s Issues in 2002.

She told The Daily News in a November 2009 interview that the election of Barack Obama to the presidency was hard to believe. “No, I did not see it happening,” she said. “I met him right here in this apartment. He came up to see me when he first visited the city. I adored him. He was a natural born leader.”

Ms. Cunningham’s four marriages ended in divorce. She told The Times: “Each one of my husbands tried to diminish my independence and my work.”

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Dies at 65 - May 6, 2010

Rhonda Copelon, a human rights lawyer who played a major role in several groundbreaking cases, including one that allowed victims of abuses in other countries to seek justice in American courts, died Thursday, May 6th at her home in Manhattan of ovarian cancer. She was 65.

Born in New Haven on Sept. 15, 1944, the only child of Herman and Katherine Copelon, she graduated from Bryn Mawr in 1966 with a degree in history and political science and received her law degree from Yale four years later. Her marriage to David Schoenbrod ended in divorce. She has no immediate survivors.

VFA's bio of Rhonda in our Harvard program: Rhonda Copelon is a founding professor at CUNY Law School and director of CUNY's widely-acclaimed International Women's Human Rights Law Clinic (IWHR). From 1971 to 1983, as a staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights she was part of a groundbreaking team of civil rights and feminist lawyers.

Rhonda Copelon by Linda Stein

Copelon's reproductive-rights work includes argument in the Supreme Court that restored African-American teacher-aides fired for bearing out-of wedlock children; defeat of the first "fetal rights" case; protection of poor women from abusive sterilization; and a long fight to preserve Medicaid funding for abortion culminating in her Supreme Court argument against the federal (Henry) Hyde Amendment (1977). Other early feminist work targeted NY's marital rape exception, Operation Rescue, WABC's sexism, women's jury exemptions, the death penalty for rape, and criminal sodomy laws. She co-taught one of the first Women and the Law seminars and spoke at pro-choice and women's rights rallies,meetings, and on the campuses.

After a landmark case opening federal courts to international human rights cases, Copelon cofounded the IWHR clinic in 1992, and in 1997 the Women's Caucus for Gender Justice in the International Criminal Court. Supporting activists in the U.S.and globally, IWHR has trained students and contributed to recognition of women's human rights, including rape and gender crimes as torture, war crimes,genocide and crimes against humanity; domestic violence as torture; and reproductive and sexual rights as human rights. Copelon was a member of CARASA, the National Jury Project, the NARAL Board, Feminist and Gay/Lesbian roundtables, and Human Rights Watch, Women's Rights Advisory Board. She remains a member of the National Lawyers Guild, and on Boards of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Joan Michel

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Harriet Cooper Alpern, cofounder of Detroit NOW, died April 25, 2010 at age 87

VFA has urged members to leave instructions to their families to advise VFA of their passing, but we still hear about many long after they’ve died, if we hear at all. When Joan Israel of Detroit informed us of Harriet’s death, I emailed Detroit members asking for Harriet’s obit, and received these memories from Vicki Lange.


I first met Harriet in the mid-1970s during the class-action lawsuit against The Detroit News for employment discrimination. Our committee for that endeavor was called "Women in the News," and Harriet was one of our committee members.

She enlisted my help in designing and printing posters for the
League of Women Voters-Oakland Area and Women's Action for New Directions (WAND). The poster featured a muzzled Statue of Liberty with the following copy: "Women Have No Voice…If We Don't Vote! Our vote is our voice. Use it! Vote November 5th!"

Harriet was extensively involved with the promotion of women candidates. It was her belief that it is important to support all women running for office, regardless of their party affiliation or educational/professional credentials. However, she did have a litmus test: She preferred that the women were socially liberal and fervent advocates of abortion rights and pay equity, and she hosted events in her home to promote prospective candidates.

Harriet cofounded and developed a project to monitor the content of news reported by traditional media outlets. She and another woman scrutinized print and electronic stories about women to determine whether the reporting was fair, balanced and non-sexist in its approach and tone. She also offered formal media/speaker training to enhance the women’s delivery before lights, cameras, microphones and the omnipresent reporters' notebooks.

Patricia Hill Burnett and Harriet grew up together in Detroit and shared many feminist missions. Patricia shared some stories about Harriet that I’d never heard before, including this one: When the front door to the private Detroit Athletic Club (DAC)--at that time closed to women--was first invaded by feminists, Harriet was among the approximately 40 women wearing their highest heels who stormed in, yelling: "The real heels of the DAC are inside!" Patricia and Harriet also were the cofounders of
Michigan's NOW chapter.

Surviving are children Dwight Alpern and Abbey Alpern Bern, a sister, two sisters-in-law and three grandchildren.--
Vicki Lange

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VFA mourns the passing of JoAnn, who died Tuesday, February 16 only a few months after the death of her husband, Gerry Gardner. Cause of death was complications from diabetes.

An ardent feminist, civil rights defender and environmentalist, JoAnn was a member of the national NOW board for many years, and among founders of the Pennsylvania Chapter of NOW, the Association of Women in Psychology and the National Women’s Political Caucus. She received her Ph.D. in experimental psychology in 1962 from the University of Pittsburgh. She and her husband, Gerry, a mathematician and geophysicist, both college professors, were partners in life and activism for 59 years.

Among her many actions was the civil rights suit against the Westinghouse Broadcasting Company on her own behalf and that of similarly situated women alleging sex discrimination in Westinghouse employment practices. With her husband and other members of Pittsburgh NOW, JoAnn co-founded KNOW, a feminist press in Pittsburgh. Together, they were instrumental in the suit against the Pittsburgh Press filed by Pittsburgh NOW for sex-segregated want ads. They won the suit in the U.S. Supreme Court and changed newspaper practices nationwide.

JoAnn organized and took part in many protest marches, unsparingly confronting those whom she felt abused their power, and quietly assisting less fortunate persons with a place to stay or a loan that might never be repaid.
VFA especially remembers her at the Times Square statue action in 1972, when young sculptor, Moira McNeur, scrambled up Father Duffy and placed her paper maché statue of Susan B atop his head as police officers who were "protecting" the demonstration looked on. When she descended they arrested her. JoAnn rushed up and, stretching her 5-foot 2-inch frame, asked, "What's wrong officer? I'm Dr. JoAnn Evansgardner. May I help?" She too was ordered into the patrol car. Then Gerry ran up ran up to help, and he too was arrested. A few weeks later JoAnn returned to New York to appear in court and support Lorna. The case was dismissed.

As she supported and mentored young feminists, JoAnn also assisted many in filing discrimination complaints, becoming professionals in non-traditional fields, and running for and gaining election to political offices.

Houston pioneer feminist Janet Elisoff reminds us that in the 1980’s, while JoAnn and Gerry were teaching at Houston University, JoAnn started the school's chapter of NOW and activated the Houston feminist community.

JoAnn will be greatly missed by her many feminist friends, her sister-in-law Betty Evans, and seven nieces and nephews who survive her.


Photo Copyright: Jo Freeman

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Mary Daly, author of "The Second Sex" died January 3, 2010 in Massachusetts.

Mary's contributions to feminist theology, philosophy, and theory were many, unique, and, some say, world-changing.

Friends remember Mary Daly

Mary created 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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MARY RUTHSDOTTER 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 family.

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.

Following her 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
November 11, 2009



(L-r) Paula Pace, Lillian Kozak, Professor Andrew Schepard, and Professor Maria Volpe explored the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution in domestic disputes.

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.

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.

Marcia Pappas, 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:

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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, Mass.

Besides her 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.

In 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 opportunities.

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 from Princeton.

An 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:

Contact JoAnn Evans Gardner:

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Joan C. Steinberg Neuwirth

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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Elizabeth Chittick 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

April 20, 2009

Dear Friends,

National Woman's Party is saddened to report the loss of the former president of the NWP, Elizabeth Chittick [1908-2009]. She was 100 years old.

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 Historic Places.

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.

Contact Jacqui Ceballos for Further Details:


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Marilyn French, Writer and Feminist Activist, Died in Manhattan May 2, 2009 at age 79


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 once declared.

“The Women’s 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 Women” (1992).

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, MA.

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February 1, 2009

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 great-grandchildren.

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;

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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.

When 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 children,

Ms. Rush 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.

When Rush's 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.

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Jazz historian, 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 alone.

Rosetta's 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 for more information.


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In Memory of Lila Karp, 1933-2008

" . . . that your stern death broke in upon us, darkly,
wrenching the till-then from the ever-since—
this concerns us: setting it all in order
is the task we have continually before us. . . ."

Rilke, from "Requiem for a Friend"

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 America, 1963-1975.

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 allure.

When we 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 remembered.

There 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,
Kirsten Grimstad
Chair, 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 Ceballos

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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.

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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 Association.

She is 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 many.

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Jean Witter, one of the first presidents of Pittsburgh NOW, died of lung cancer on June 25, 2008 in Pittsburgh. She was 80.

In the 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 Wars.

Predeceased by her husband DuWayne, Jean is survived by sons Ray and David, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

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Dolores Alexander
May 13, 2008


Actress Peg Murray (left) showing Dolores Alexander pictures of her years on Broadway.

Dolores 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 movement.

She joined NOW and enlisted every woman at Newsday, including her lifelong friend, Ivy Bottini and was Betty Friedan's right hand for many years.

"I was 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.

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Barbara Seaman, born September 11, 1935; died February 27, 2008

Remembering Barbara Seaman
Jennifer Baumgardner
Posted February 27, 2008 | 04:00 PM (EST)
This post first appeared on Feministing.

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.
The 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 Barbara.

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 life.

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 sick.

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.


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 health.

People were 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 Michel

Barbara's Son Noah Recollects:

"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 days.

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."

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VFA Mourns Loss of Judith Meuli


Her Spirit Lives On
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 Women's Graphic 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 honor.

A real 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 missed.

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

If you wish to share your thoughts with us, contact Jacqui Ceballos at:

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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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1932 - 2007

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 grandchildren.

Memorial services are being planned. Check back; we'll keep you up to date as we get the information.

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Richard Graham, Equal Rights Leader, Dies at 86
New York Times
Published: October 8, 2007

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 said.

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 country.

Richard 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 hearts.”

In 1961, 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 understanding.

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 great-grandchildren.

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.”

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Dr. Cathryn Adamsky

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 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 Washington.

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 generation."

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 golf tournament.

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 grandchildren.

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. Jacqui

We'll sure miss her. Jacqui

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Celebrate Dr. Eleanor Schetlin's Life 1920-2007

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, NY.
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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Betty Friedan
Philosopher of Modern-Day Feminism


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 Bazelon.

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 psychoanalysis.

"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 rejected.

"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 homosexuality.

"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 women."

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 more."

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 reporter.

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 classmates.

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 century.

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 issues.

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 movement.

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 Caucus.

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.
Ann Sutherland Harris

In Memoriam: Betty Friedan
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 men."

Friedan was 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."



Betty Friedan Died
Marjorie DeFazio
February 7, 2006

She's gone
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

When she finished
We all followed her
To the next door
We would batter
To the next barrier we would break

Betty Friedan Died
She's not gone
Betty Friedan's legacy
Late feminist shaped the women's movement
Ellen Goodman
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 feminism.

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 time.

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 women."

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 legendary.

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 our lives.

For more, please visit the Ellen Goodman archives.

Feminism 101
Good-bye, Betty Friedan
Claudine Zap

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 Steinem.

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 abortion.

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 name.

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 review.

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.

Sharon Bridlord

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 from college.

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 Ceballos.

I never 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 words".

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. She wrote:

"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 still."

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:

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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 Rebecca.

Michael, 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 richly deserves.

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VFA founding member, Betty Berry died in Pompano Beach, FL, on Feb 8, 2007 at the age of 84.

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.

Joan Michel

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HARRIET WOODS..VFA 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 City.

Harriet is survived by three sons and nine grandchildren.

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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 Ratification Council.

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 Washington."

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 emancipation.

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 tribe.

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


(1937 - 2006)

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 newsletter.

Jacqui Ceballos

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 twenty years.

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Alida Walsh

Dies Christmas Eve 2006

Jacqui Ceballos:

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 demonstrations.

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 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

Dear Jacqui:

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 best,

Silvianna Goldsmith

Dear Jacqui,

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.

Sandy Langer

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June Bundy Csida

Author, feminist 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 service.

For questions regarding the service, or needs directions, please e-mail or call me.
Lisa Malec

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 the organization.

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.

As a 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 show.

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.

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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.
Ms. Raven 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 Building.

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 University.

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.

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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, 1995.

Archives: University of Iowa Women's Archives, Iowa City. (ABS)

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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 appropriate.''

Her 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 fare.

In Congress, ''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 workers.

Ms. Abzug 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, N.Y.

''I've been 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
Lawrence Lader, Champion of Abortion Rights, Is Dead at 86


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 was 86.

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 others.

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 Pro-Choice America.

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 RU-486.

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Wendy Wasserstein


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 Express bill".

The 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.

Wendy Wasserstein's 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 daughter.

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Shirley Chisholm, 'Unbossed' Pioneer in Congress, Dies

January 3, 2005
New 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 States

“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 reapportionment.

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 Conservative candidate.

"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 Committees.

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 was 4."

From 1959 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."

Mrs. Chisholm 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 be remembered."

Michelle O'Donnell contributed reporting for this article.

Shirley Chisholm 1972 (photo by Rose Greene)

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Her Spirit Lives On
April 3, 1926 - October 15, 2004

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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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, NY.

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 years!

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 1977.

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 members.

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 Marie.

You may read more about Frank in THE MEN OF VFA section on the VFA webpage, 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 feminism.

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 long.

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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.

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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 history."

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Words from Jacqui Ceballos

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.. Jacqui

Jacquelilne Michot Ceballos
220 Doucet Rd 225-D
Lafayette, LA 70503
Phone/Fax - 337-984-3599
Cell phone - 337-278-3389 ( only when traveling)

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 friends.

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 College.

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 private.

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 information:

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GENE BOYER 1925-2003

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

Dear Jacqui,

You cannot 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 endeavors.

Even 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 other side.


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 Harvard University..


VFA members may remember Gene
by giving a donation to the:

c/o Amy Hackett
473 Westminister Rd
Brooklyn, NY 11218

donations are tax-deductible

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, VFA

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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 future.

Please visit the RedStockings' website for more on Irene:

For more information call or send memories to:
Rosalyn Baxandall

E-Mail RosyBax@AOL.COM
Home- 212- 982-8388 Work- 516- 876-3103

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Martha Wright Griffiths

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.

Mrs. Griffiths 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 Legislature.

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 advice."

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Mary Maxine Reed
Won the first Sex Discrimination Suit in 1971

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 Clause."

It was 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 failed.

The case 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.

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Toni Carabillo

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 Angeles.

The late 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 Power.

Her intense involvement in the feminist movement began when she joined the National Organization for Women in 1966.

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 1977.

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 dollars.

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 applications.

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 opportunities.

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.

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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 event.

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 over.

—Jacqui Ceballos, Lafayette, La.


Patsy Mink Coalition Builder for
Greater Understanding

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 sugar plantations.

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 valedictorian.

She 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 of education.

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.

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IRENE BLATNIK -- ERA pioneer from Illinois dies at age 82
February 2002

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.

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October 2001

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 in 1997.

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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."


Marie Haener-Patti

From Jacqui Ceballos:

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 history.

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. JC

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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, CT 06897

Forever Young

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 showing."

She got 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 lives.

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 groups.

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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 cause."

Justice 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 revolution."

Marie 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 wrote.

After 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 Goodman said.

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 an anticlimax."

In 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, D.C.

"Evelyn Barstow 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 today.

Mary 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.

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Dr. Ruby Rohrlich

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, 2000.

Contact Jacqui Ceballos for further details:

Professor Emerita, City University of New York
Research Professor, 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

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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 1971.

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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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.


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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 groups.

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 Africa.

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.

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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 Directors.

Shep 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.

Betty Freidan presents the Veteran Feminist of America Medal of Honor to Dr. Aronson

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 1974.

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 publication.

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 daughter Sharon.

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 loved.

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, feminist society.

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 01752.

Prepared by Lois Galgay Reckitt

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Reported to VFA 3.2.2000


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.

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Mary-Scott Welch, 75, Writer, Editor & Official of NOW
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 by men.
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 War II.

For most 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 Greenfield

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