A few Sundays back, our pastor spoke about the importance of leadership in the church and in individual lives. He then paid tribute to 10 people who had influenced his life in profound ways. He encouraged everyone listening to do the same thing. After giving the matter some thought, my list quickly grew to 20. Not being able to prune the list to 10, I solved the dilemma by making 2 lists: one of influential women and the other of influential men. To prove that chivalry is not dead, the women’s list comes first.
10. Mrs. Margarent Eggleston, Franklin Elementary 2nd grade teacher, who presented her students with oodles of opportunities to be creative…and let this girl use show and tell to hone her stand up comedy routine.
9. Mrs. Zoe Hemmingson, Franklin Elementary 4th grade teacher, who made social studies come alive for her students. 10 years later, she taught social studies elementary teaching methods at the college where I learned how to make social studies come alive for my students.
8. Betty Kingery, Westmar College elementary education professor who had taught elementary school for many years and passed her practical wisdom and humor on to a bunch of wannabe elementary teachers, one of whom wouldn’t have made it through her first year of teaching without the wealth of resources she provided.
7. Cheryl Gottschalk, the Harding County Schools elementary principal who gave specific feedback after every classroom observation and submitted my name to Who’s Who Among American Teachers. Until then, I had no idea whether or not my teaching was up to par.
6. Dr. Ruth Monroe, Westmar College theater professor. She was a strong, independent, creative, single woman who opened doors to the world to her students. She took us to the Guthrie in Minneapolis, to Broadway, to Washington, DC, and demonstrated how to mount professional productions in unusual and unexpected places.
5. Dorothy Pederson, head dietician at Brentwood Good Samaritan Center, who was my first boss. Under her tutelage, I learned time management, efficiently, and quality control. She promoted an insecure high school junior from dishwasher to assistant cook and made me feel competent.
4. Jane Bricker Lindell, who into our neighborhood between our 8th and 9th grade years. At the beginning of 10th grade, she suggested I read the textbooks and complete my assignments on time and then made sure I did. Because of her, I became a good student and had a magical high school experience.
3. Judith Markham, who was an editor at Discovery House Publisher when we first met. She encouraged me to pursue writing and publication through traditional publishing houses. She championed the book proposal for my first book, A Different Dream for My Child, and edited the project. Without her, I might not have become a published author.
2. Donna Hoey, my aunt and Mom’s younger sister. Words aren’t enough to tell what a presence this woman was and still is in my life. She was unconditional love, security, kindness, and stability to a little girl whose life was upended by her father’s illness. When she hugs me each time we meet, she still makes me feel safe. (On the left in the photo above.)
1. Dorothea Stratton, my mom who carried three young children and a disabled husband on her determined shoulders throughout the 1960s and 70s. Because of her, I am an educated woman. Because of her relationship with Dad, I understand what it means to love someone to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. (On the right in the photo above.)
Who are the people who profoundly changed your life? Give some of them a shout out in the comment box. I’m looking forward to meeting them.