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AAUW branch celebrates 62nd anniversary

November 30, 1999|By MARIE GILBERT

Mary Jane Koontz was an Avon lady when she fell into an unexpected career opportunity. She became a truck driver.

While selling beauty products, the Hagerstown resident said she became aware of a need for a local delivery service. Doing some research, she convinced herself that she could make such a business work.

So with a mix of ingenuity, dedication and courage, she founded Hub City Express Inc. She also made history, becoming the first Washington County woman to own a trucking company.

Koontz is among a group of women featured in Dr. Mary Jo Kelly Wilhelm's book, "Working Women: First in Their Field in Washington County."

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Wilhelm shared the stories of some of the women Saturday afternoon as guest speaker at the 62nd anniversary celebration of the Hagerstown branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW).

Several of the women featured in the book were in attendance at Fountain Head Country Club.

As a member of the Washington County Commission for Women, Wilhelm said the idea for the book originated several years ago with Catherine Cushwa Schoen, past president of the commission, who wanted to honor area women who were trailblazers in their careers.

"One of our missions is to recognize the contributions of women in the county, and this was the perfect way to do it," Wilhelm

A request went out to the community for information about women who were first in their fields, Wilhelm said.

"The response was incredible," she said. "People would write us about their mothers or their wives. We couldn't have done this without the wonderful cooperation from the community."

As a list of names was compiled, various commission members were assigned people to research.

By that time, Wilhelm had become commission president. And since her background is in storytelling, "I really wanted to do this book," she said.

Working with fellow commission member Joan Erdesky, who had publishing experience, Wilhelm said everything began to fall into place.

The end result "is a wonderful book of stories about women who were given an opportunity, said 'yes,' were a little afraid, but did it anyway," Wilhelm said.

The book, published in June 2006, has been well-received by the public, WIlhelm said.

"And personally, I love reading these stories over again," she said.

Since starting Hub City Express, Koontz said her life has changed.

"I took a chance and made it work," she said. "Today, we have 21 trucks, and have expanded outside of the area."

Koontz said she was honored to be included in the book, and thrilled to be a special guest at the AAUW celebration.

"There was a time when I thought no one would recognize that I owned a trucking company," she said. "Today is very special."

While she has seen many changes in her life, Koontz said some things have remained the same.

"I belong to 19 different organizations, and I'm still a part of all of them," she said. "And, after 45 years, I'm still an Avon lady."

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