INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY TRIBUTE
The following women, and many more, have contributed significantly to my life and my work and without them I would not be who I am or where I am today. It is with deep and lasting gratitude that I celebrate these women and their inspiring lives that remain as models for me today. The featured image is my mother and me in 2002.
Mother – Cecil Ketring Gruber Gettinger – 1913-2008 She was an amazing woman who did it all and with a sense of humor. She gave me life 80+ years ago, supported me through thick and thin and was always a beacon of hope. I remain grateful for her spirit of generosity, her unselfish devotion to the needs of her family and others, her deep and abiding faith and her ability to maintain a positive attitude regardless of the situation. She was both tough and tender and was a model for me for some 71 years. When my Dad died suddenly at age 67, she continued on and four years later, at age 70, she married again and enjoyed the next 25 years demonstrating her commitments to a full and active life.
Grandmothers – Both maternal and paternal grandmothers, Lizzie Siler Gruber and Jessie Wampler Ketring, both born in a previous century, both of whom knew the hardships of making a living on a family farm and both of whom gave me opportunities to learn and grow in their respective environments. They gave me the freedom to explore and make mistakes, to correct me when I needed it and provided my parents with relief from their having constantly to deal with me and my brother. They were both strong women – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. My kids today would say, “awesome.”
WIFE # 1 – Linda Alley Gruber whom I met when I was in the 5th grade and whom I married in 1958, a year before I graduated from college. She had graduated a year prior, took a low paying teaching job ($3500 salary) and continued to support me through four more years of education. She also became the mother of our three children and worked to help support our family after my second stint in graduate school. We had a lot in common and enjoyed many years together. She was a loyal and devoted wife and mother.
WIFE # 2 Susan Ann Richardson appeared on a doorstep and stepped into my life in 1996 and brought along with her four grown children, thus expanding our family to seven children and now fourteen shared grandchildren. Susie’s energy, spirit and sense of adventure more than equal mine and our travels together have expanded beyond what I might have expected. She is my best friend, partner and welcome critic and for the past 22 years I have grown immensely under her tutelage. She is a terrific co-pilot, navigator and engineer and much more on this wonderful journey called life as we know it.
Mary Steichen Calderone A Quaker and a Democrat she was the daughter of Edward Steichen and much more than a female doctor championing a cause. The cause was sex education, not a popular topic in the sixties in many quarters. She and I had several conversations where she encouraged me to return to graduate school for a doctorate in family life education. She and I both suffered abuse from the John Birch Society which I considered a compliment and being associated with Mary was a privilege. She lived out the last years of her life in a Quaker retirement village and suffered for her last 10 years with Alzheimers.
Mary Caroline Richards M.C. had a distinguished career as a teacher, artist, sculptor, painter and writer. I first encountered her in a presentation in Bryn Mawr, PA in conjunction with another radical, rabble rouser named Matthew Fox. M.C. had a depth of spirit that intrigued me and my conversations with her were challenging, enlightening and inspiring. I still keep thinking that I will eventually get around to working in clay or painting but as yet, that hasn’t happened. M.C. finished up her life as a volunteer in a Camp Hill Village in Kimberton, PA a place that serves developmentally disabled adults. I worked with her there briefly in a clay workshop.
Margaret Bailey Speer Miss Speer, as she was known to hundreds of Shipley students staff, parents and alumni was the head of that school from 1944-1965 and was one of my predecessors in that position. I had the good fortune to know her during my tenure as head of Shipley from 1985-1992. Marnie, which is what she asked that I call her, graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 1922 and became a strong leader and visionary who applied herself fully to the matters that compelled her. Her parents were missionaries to China and they were all interred in a prison camp by the Japanese. She had a clear, strong voice, good-humored wit, a brother Bill who was a Dean at M.I.T. and who lived with her in their later years. They kept up with world events and as educators served as models for others.
Teachers, Professors, Mentors and Colleagues Liliian Ongst, Hazel Fry, Mabel Snyder, Edna Hartle, Mary Raach, Elizabeth Hill, Leah Jeffries, Ruby Jane Etter, Stella Goldberg, Louise Gurney, Bunnie Willits; and colleagues including Becky Moore, Blair Stambaugh, Peggie Ann Findley, Aggie Underwood, and Coreen Hester, Each of these women, and many unnamed others, have contributed to my lifelong learning journey through meaningful relationships, encouragement and inspiration. I celebrate all of them today for their gifts, their shared talents and their dedicated commitments. To all of the women, and men, who are reading this, thank you for generous sharing, and for continuing to be part of the ongoing dialogue about our common interests in evolving as human beings.