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Cyr honored as a woman of distinction

August 06, 2010|By HEATHER KEELS
  • Marguerite Cyr arrives in a 1938 Buick Special Thursday to attend the 2010 Women of Distinction luncheon at Fountain Head Country Club. The event honored Cyr's life and accomplishments.
By Yvette May/Staff Photographer,

When community leaders approached Marguerite E. Cyr about being Washington County's first "Woman of Distinction," the artist and longtime community volunteer hesitated.

"I said, 'What does it involve?' because as you get up in years, you say, 'Can I do it?'" Cyr, 97, recalled, to chuckles from the audience, during a luncheon Thursday at Fountain Head Country Club.

As it turns out, the honor involved being chauffeured in an antique car, visiting with dozens of her friends and colleagues, and being applauded by local, state and national leaders for her contributions to the community.

Cyr, the first president of the Shawnee Girl Scout Council and a 45-year volunteer with the American Red Cross, was selected for the award by a 12-member committee.

She is a former art teacher at St. Maria Goretti High School and is a renowned artist in the Tri-State area who still actively exhibits her work around the county, event organizers said.

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"Marguerite embodies the genuine spirit of volunteerism," American Red Cross National Chair of Volunteers Pam Farr said during the program. "An outstanding artist, educator and senior volunteer leader, she has committed her time, passion and service to help those in need and strengthen the invisible connection that links us all together and constitutes the fiber of our community."

Cyr started volunteering for the Red Cross of Washington County in 1965, packing comfort bags for soldiers in the Vietnam War, Farr said. She went on to serve on the organization's board of directors and was very innovative in starting one of the first planned giving programs for the American Red Cross, Farr said.

Officials from the Girl Scouts said Cyr dedicated her life to Girl Scouting and served as a role model and mentor to the Shawnee Council presidents who followed her.

"She always brought back the purpose, which was the girls," said Berniece Collis, a board member of the Girl Scout Council of the Nation's Capital. "The girls needed to be at the center of every decision that we made."

Speakers at the event also congratulated Cyr on her 97th birthday, which was Wednesday.

Cyr said despite her age, she remembered almost everyone at the event by name.

"I'm up here, I'm walking, I'm talking, I'm remembering, and I can cook and I can read and I can paint," she said. "I can do so many things that I've always done ... and I hope to be just as involved as a part of the community."

Cyr described volunteering as a regular, but highly rewarding, part of life.

"Every so often, someone will approach you with a project, and you say, 'Of course I can do it; I can help you,'" she said. "And you don't realize you're volunteering. It's a normal procedure."

She encouraged volunteers today to draw inspiration from women of the past who had less educational opportunities and fewer accepted roles in society, yet were able to accomplish much.

"If you look through the rolls of Congress, if you look through the rolls of all the governors who are women, they've come a long way," Cyr said. "And they are very supportive, so let's keep up the good work."

The Women of Distinction Committee plans to donate the proceeds from Thursday's event, about $10,000, to the Tiffany Circle Society of Women Leaders in Cyr's name, committee member Julie M. Barr-Strasburg said.

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