National Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day is a time to recognize, celebrate and share stories about the lives and experiences of women throughout history. Sharing life stories and keeping memories alive are excellent ways to celebrate history, while looking forward to the good things to come. At Anthology Senior Living, we have so many intelligent, hardworking, thoughtful and forward-thinking women living and working at our communities across the country. In honor of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, we will be highlighting a few of their life stories each week this month.
Anthology of Anderson Township
At Anthology of Anderson Township, the community took time to honor the lives of extraordinary women, like Sue Reichard. Sue’s son told his mother’s life story of selflessness, hard work and commitment to family.
At the age of 7, Sue’s son was diagnosed with a learning disability. This was in 1982, long before learning disabilities were widely recognized. The local school district refused to provide the services needed, and Sue’s son remembers his mother crying on several occasions. But Sue did not let these challenges get her down; Sue and her husband enrolled their son in the Springer School to get the help he needed. However, at $6,400 per year in 1983, the school put a financial strain on the family. Sue also signed her son up for a tutor twice a week and spent hours each week driving him to lessons. Thanks to Sue’s commitment to helping, her son began to see success.
After getting her son on the right track, Sue began to help other kids with the same educational struggles. Her son graduated from Springer after three years and moved on to another private school, while Sue became a full-time assistant teacher at Springer School. Sue eventually moved on to teach first grade and preschool in the Anderson community. To this day, former parents and students have stories to share! Sue also supported her son through high school and on to college where he earned an engineering degree from Miami University. As a retired teacher, Sue began to focus on her own grandchildren. One granddaughter has a learning disability, and Sue has been a great support, while also helping her granddaughter to get into the Springer School. Sue’s son believes she is largely unaware of the incredible impact she has had on children, parents and families in her community, especially to those with learning disabilities.
Anthology of Burlington Creek
At Anthology of Burlington Creek, the team was also busy sharing memories and life stories. The women’s stories shared started with Barbara. Barbara spent 50 years as a devoted nurse and loving mother to six wonderful children. Barbara worked as a nurse in the inner city during segregation and times of rioting. The hospitals segregated patients based on color. She worked at The General Hospital and cared for all. Being a nurse in the inner city required a different layer of toughness. Barbara recalls some of the patients being cuffed to the hospital beds; yet nothing scared her away from her passion for helping and serving others. Being a nurse and a mother to six calls for a little rest and relaxation. Barbara enjoyed traveling. She took a special liking to River Boat cruises. Barbara remains a nurse at heart, caring for others, always.
Sharing memories continued with stories of Cindy. Cindy’s life story is an inspiration to many. Cindy has lived a full life with no plans to slow down. She spent time working in the Pentagon, raising children and retiring in sunny Florida. Cindy is truly remarkable. She was called to caregiving for her husband, who suffered from ALS. This job was far from easy, and Cindy’s devotion as a provider remained strong. When Cindy decided to move to Anthology, her mobility and ability to care for herself was compromised. She was diagnosed with a tumor that affected her cognition and balance. After many treatments and perseverance, Cindy’s mobility has greatly changed. She is an avid walker, enjoying long walks in and outside the community; she inspires others to keep going when times are hard.
And finally, the community shared the life story of Dorothy. A college graduate who received her master’s degree in learning disabilities, Dorothy spent many years educating in the U.S. and overseas. In the 1960s, she and her husband decided to do voluntary service with the Mennonite Central Committee. They were sent to the jungle in Peru, where she taught missionary children in a boarding school; 10 different missions were represented at the school. She had a pet monkey, and her husband caught an 18-foot-long anaconda! She still has the skin to prove it. She taught for over 37 years. After retiring, she continued to teach Sunday school and tutor.
Anthology of The Plaza
The community at Anthology of The Plaza marked the occasion by gathering team members, residents and families to discuss women’s achievements and celebrate women’s stories. The community celebrated Shea. Also known as “The Queen of Coincidence,” Shea is an American artist whose work focuses on ecofeminism, symbolism, spirituality, the synthesis of art and science, and the biological health of life on earth. She exhibited nationally in New York City, Washington, D.C., Miami and Kansas City and internationally in England, Paris, South America, Israel, Australia and New Zealand. Her art is in the permanent collections of The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, The Buenos Aires Museum of Modern Art, The Nerman Museum at Johnson County Community College, The Performing Arts Center at the University of Missouri and many corporate and private collections.
Other women’s stories included the life and adventures of Alma. Raised in rural Missouri and forced to travel long distances to attend school, Alma has been breaking barriers her whole life! For over 50 years, she led an all-black gospel group, Dr. Alma Whitney & The Whitney Singers. They recorded a number of full-length albums and 45s on various Kansas City and southern gospel labels. They toured the country many times, spreading the gospel, and one member of the group went on to be a featured singer in the James Brown Revue. Alma continued to play and teach music in her church for many years and is a beloved member of the Anthology of The Plaza community.
Sharing memories also included talking about Mary. A witty, funny, free-spirited girl, Mary road-tripped to California in the early 1960s with a friend and decided to stay! She settled in San Francisco, where she reveled in the avant-garde social scene, liberal politics and activism. She joined the staff of U.S. Representative Pete McCloskey and later worked for Nancy Pelosi, a woman she greatly admired. After some 40 years, Mary returned to Kansas City, where she put her family’s love of card games to good use dealing cards at a local casino.
Anthology of Town and Country
And at Anthology of Town and Country, International Women’s Day brought a chance to tell about the lives and adventures of three different, very special women. The life stories shared included Elizabeth, who considers Mizzou her alma mater, although much of her artwork comes from her own pure talent. The incredible story behind Elizabeth is that she never once collected or made a profit from her artwork. Why? Because she does it from love and to share love! She has made art for many years and considers each story behind every painting to be of more value than collecting any commission.
Another life story was that of Linda. Linda has a passion for people, which she shared through her role as a teacher at a local preschool. Her goal was to have a family, and that’s what she did. Anyone meeting Linda can’t help but smile or laugh; her joy is contagious. Linda did not just have a passion for people, but also for the arts. Her Anthology apartment is full of eclectic art, music and knickknacks she has collected over the years. Her heart is vast, and she loves deeply. Everywhere Linda has gone, she walks away knowing more about a person, and they can find a friend in her.
Celebrating women at Town and Country also included sharing stories about Carol. If you were to ask Carol what her passions in life are, she would tell you about family and fashion. But Carol was more than just beauty; she had brains, too. Carol built a career as an entrepreneur, working on her craft and her business all her life. Starting out, Carol was a lighting designer for HOK. One of her bigger projects can be known today as the SLU hospital’s roof lighting. From there, she went out on her own and did lighting design for her newfound clientele. She built an incredible business and found retirement early so she and her spouse could travel the world together.
About Anthology Senior Living
At Anthology Senior Living, we are committed to providing the best care and community environment possible. We stay true to our values to guide every aspect of decision-making in terms of programming, healthcare and lifestyle choices. At Anthology, it is our mission to provide a unique senior living experience, while offering our residents the best in care and hospitality. We want residents to live their lives in a meaningful way, connected to their families, friends and favorite pastimes. From our directors and care managers to our kitchen team and housekeeping staff, every team member is a caregiver who is committed to making a difference in the lives of our residents.
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