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Women honored for leadership

April 12, 2000|By JULIE E. GREENE

Three women who devoted much of their lives to public service were honored by Women at the Table on Wednesday afternoon.

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Jane Burhans, Elizabeth "Libby" Earley and the late Margaret Comstock were honored for their leadership efforts and contributions to the community during a "Life of Leadership" luncheon at the Fountain Head Road home of Barry and Sue Tuckwell.

By honoring the three women, Women at the Table officials hope to encourage other women to serve on municipal, county or state boards or commissions, said N. Sharon Leatherman, co-chairwoman for the political action committee.

The recognition ceremony was the first of what Leatherman said will become a semi-annual event.

After the ceremony, Earley and Burhans emphasized teamwork.

Other women helped Burhans win the right for women to serve on a jury in Washington County, she said. Burhans, who in 1951 became the first woman summoned for jury service in the county, spearheaded the petition drive for that right.

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Burhans, 87, of Falling Waters, W.Va., also emphasized bipartisanship on efforts such as the jury service petition and a cancer fund drive.

One of the founding members of Food Resources Inc., Earley said it was the League of Women Voters who conducted a study about the need for a community food bank that led to its eventual creation.

Earley is a past president of the League of Women Voters and spearheaded its voter registration project for many years.

A member of the Washington County Historical Society, Earley conducts tours of the downtown historic district and is helping build up the society's genealogy library.

"I just saw things that needed to be done and liked to do it," said Earley, 72, of Hagerstown.

Burhans said her public service effort began when she helped her late husband, former Washington County Commissioner and Hagerstown Mayor Winslow F. Burhans, and it broadened from there.

Burhans was the first woman to serve on the county Democratic State Central Committee, was an election worker from 1946-65, served on a panel that discussed plans for the first League of Women Voters in the county and was president of the Women's Democratic Club of Hagerstown from 1949-65.

She now serves on a committee preparing for the 50th anniversary in 2002 of Hagerstown's Sister City affiliation with Wesel, Germany.

Burhans and Earley both received a framed certificate and a copy of the book, "100 Most Important Women of the 20th Century."

Dr. George W. Comstock was given a certificate in honor of his late wife. Leatherman said Women at the Table will donate $50 to the League of Women Voters in memory of Margaret Comstock.

Margaret Comstock is remembered as the matriarch of the League of Women Voters, initiating its organization shortly after moving to the county in 1963, Leatherman said.

"Perhaps her most lasting legacy for the community was her tireless efforts on behalf of the environment," Leatherman said. She also was a major force in getting the county's recycling program started, she said.

Dr. Comstock said his wife enjoyed helping others.

"I don't think she ever felt she was as important as she was," he said.

Margaret Comstock died Jan. 8. She was 91.

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