Every day, the actions we take influence others, for better or worse. Though relatively small in population, our area has quite a few women who have influenced others for the better through their public achievements. We asked a few of them, predominantly those in the arts, to tell us about a woman who helped inspire their own creativity and/or achievements.
We also were fortunate to be able to include this year’s USA Weightlifting Champion and local USEOC trainee Vanessa McCoy, who has created a very significant accomplishment in a field until recently associated with men.
We hope these nuggets will inspire you and remind you of those who have already inspired you as well.
Nationally Award-Winning Water Color Artist & Instructor Kathleen Conover: Marquette resident Maggie Lynn is a dedicated artist, art educator, friend, wife and mother who continues to inspire not only in watercolor painting but in life. Though very busy, she always makes time to help others, even myself when she didn’t know me, a struggling newbie-artist. I called one day, asking her to critique my paintings. Without hesitation she looked over all my pieces very carefully, considered silently and shared her years of artist’s-eye expertise. Then she encouraged me not to quit! I was off and running and so was our friendship, for over thirty years now. I am blessed to have Maggie as a friend and role model in my life.
Gretchen Preston, local author of Valley Cats: The Adventures of Boonie and River, and More Valley Cats: Fun, Games and New Friends: I discovered the books of Beverly Cleary in the Riverdale School Library when I was a fifth grader. Her many books are about the antics of the children who live on Klickitat Street in Portland, Oregon. My attraction to her stories was that not only did I live in Portland, but my grandparents also lived on Klickitat! This connection inspired me to write local children’s stories. My favorite Cleary books are Beezus and Ramona, and Mouse and the Motorcycle. Beverly Cleary is a Newberry Award winning author. Her enchanting stories have been enjoyed by children for over sixty years.
Social Dance Instructor Camilla Mingay, co-creator and c0-producer of the Annual Blueberry Dance Festival and Holiday Dance Show: Marge Sklar, NMU Associate Professor and Associate Dean of the College of Business, has inspired me since my high school days, when she provided me key dance instruction, and throughout the years since. She gave me the opportunity to perform demonstrations for her college students, encouraged me to choreograph and perform at NMU events, and even brought me to my very first dance competition at Michigan Tech University, where my dance partner and I took first place! Marge has helped make dance instruction accessible to all ages and levels of dancers throughout the community by offering free ballroom dance classes at NMU, acting as advisor to student dance groups, and opening the Dance Zone, where people of all ability levels can learn different forms of social dancing.
Winner of three gold medals in the 2011 USA Weightlifting National Championships and Marquette USOEC trainee Vanessa McCoy: I’m greatly inspired by Olympic weightlifter Melanie Roach. Melanie has an incredible positive attitude and zest for life! She always seems to be smiling and having fun in competition. She’s also a master at life balance, managing a family of four children, including a special needs child and a husband in politics, while owning a gymnastics academy and training for elite weightlifting competitions. Melanie’s perseverance has brought her to the top of her sport. Her example of suffering a difficult back injury and coming back as the top finishing American 2008 Olympic weightlifter, male or female, pushes me to overcome my own obstacles.
Reprinted with permission from the Fall 2011 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine.