Commission celebrates working women

June 28, 2006|by JANET HEIM

It was a celebration of pioneers - working women, past and present - who led the way for other women in Washington County.

The Washington County Commission for Women introduced its book "Working Women: First in their Field in Washington County" at a publication celebration June 14.

The book marked a pioneering effort by the commission - its first effort into book publishing. And because of the overwhelming response, there are plans for a second volume, said Mary Jo Kelly Wilhelm, who served as editor of the book.

The commission, along with the women featured in the book and family members, gathered at the County Administration Building on West Washington Street.


Those attending the evening event filled a conference room with the enthusiasm and positive attitudes of the women who blazed the trail for others.

Eighteen of the 41 women featured in the book were present or represented by a family member. They were introduced by a commissioner, who gave a synopsis of their story and what set them apart.

Jane Guyton was the first female principal in Washington County. When she was asked to take the job, she made a list of pros and cons. Although the list of cons was much longer than the list of pros, Guyton agreed to take the job.

"It was the toughest job I've ever done, but it was exhilarating," Guyton said.

When Thelma Brewer was told a woman would never work the Chief Clerk's position for the Western Maryland Railway Yard Office, she said that raised a "red flag" for her. She made sure she learned the skills necessary for the job and the next time the position opened, she was rewarded with the job.

The women each acknowledged the honor and most agreed that it wasn't always easy being first in their field. The common thread of seeing a need and striving to meet it ran through the stories of the women in the book.

The women range from architects and benefactors to school principals and law enforcement officers. Book chapters include women in History, Law Enforcement, Crafts and Trades, Education, Politics, Insurance, Business, Aviation and Transportation, Medical and Professional.

"This has been quite an evening. I've been touched again and again," Wilhelm said.

"Working Women: First in their Field" features Anna Brugh Singer on the front cover. Singer and her husband gave the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts to the City of Hagerstown.

The book sells for $10.95 at The Visitor Welcome Center, 6 N. Potomac St., Hagerstown; The Washington County Museum of Fine Arts Gift Store in City Park; Turn the Page Bookstore, 18 N. Main St., Boonsboro; and The Four Seasons Book Store, 116 W. German St., Shepherdstown, W.Va. A copy has been donated to the Western Maryland Room at the Washington County Free Library in Hagerstown.

Wilhelm is seeking suggestions of women who should be included in the second book

The Washington County Commission for Women advocates for women in work, government and society through a variety of programs and activities. They meet the second Wednesday of every month at 7 p.m. at the Washington County Administration Building at 100 W. Washington St. in Hagerstown.

The public is invited to attend meetings and new members, both female and male, are welcome. Applications are available at For more information, call commission President Rose Wolters at 301-748-6046.

"We want to get the word out. We're doing good stuff - there's nothing controversial about us," Wolters said.

Women recognized in "Working Women: First in Their Field in Washington County" include:

  • Ann Holtzman

  • Anna Brugh Singer

  • Carolyn Motz

  • Charlotte Duffey

  • Denise Lichliter Keller

  • Doris E. Lehman

  • Eileen Wiggins

  • Eleanor Lakin

  • Elizabeth Caskey Clopper

  • Elizabeth Hager

  • Elizabeth Schulze

  • Faye Katchur

  • Gaye McGovern

  • Hazel M. Fraker

  • Hazel Lohman

  • Helen Cox Cohecy Bikle

  • Jane Guyton

  • Janet Bowen

  • June Overton Wright

  • Lillian Stouffer

  • Linda Irvin-Craig

  • Lois Bayer

  • Lynda Churchwell

  • Lucretia Hart Clay

  • Marie Byers

  • Mary Mish

  • Mary Jane Koontz

  • Margaret Burk

  • Margaret Kline

  • Margaret Stone

  • Margaret Wade

  • Marjorie Spanninger Peters

  • Mrs. Howard Kennedy

  • Nancy Neff Dunn

  • Rosemary Burtner

  • Sarah Dwyer

  • Susan Harry

  • Terri Blair

  • Thelma Brewer

  • Verna Mae Coles Brown

  • Virginia Bentz
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