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Girl Scouts honor three women of distinction

September 29, 2010|By TRISH RUDDER
  • Women of Distinction honorees, from left, Rebecca Linton, Sheila M. Hamilton, and Betty Lou Harmison and their Girl Scouts escorts Emily Berdine, Jessica Ballard, and Rebecca Montague.
Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Three Eastern Panhandle Women of Distinction were honored Wednesday by the Girl Scout Council of the Nation's Capital.

Rebecca Linton of Berkeley County, Sheila M. Hamilton of Jefferson County and Betty Lou Harmison of Morgan County were chosen by the Council for their leadership and contribution to the community and as role models for girls.

More than 250 people attended the luncheon at the Holiday Inn in Martinsburg.

o Harmison is Morgan County's honoree. She is the vice president and a founding member of the Museum of the Berkeley Springs, a founding member of the Foxglove Garden Club, and owns and operates the Bathkeeper's Cottage, a reconstruction of a 19th-century cabin.

She was named a West Virginia History Hero in 2008 and is a "first-rate local historian," Mozier said in her introduction of Harmison.

Harmison, 84, said she was a Girl Scout in 1935 and still has her uniform and sash.

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"It was one of the most important memories in my childhood," she said.

"Everyone knows how special Betty Lou is, but if you ask Betty Lou, she says, 'it's just me,'" said Tamme Marggraf, executive director of the Museum of the Berkeley Springs.

o Linton is the regional manager of City National Bank's seven banks in the Eastern Panhandle.

Introduced by last year's Berkeley County honoree, Gina Miller, Linton is the founder and chair of United Way's Christmas Cash for Kids, serves on the board of Main Street and is past president of Martinsburg-Berkeley County Chamber of Commerce.

Linton said she was not a member of the Girl Scouts growing up, but she participated in activities offered to young women and was president of the Future Business Leaders of America in high school.

Born and raised in Martinsburg, Linton said "I'm a home-grown tomato."

"I have a good family, wonderful friends and live in the best community I could ever imagine, and I never wanted to leave," Linton said.

o Hamilton was born in Jefferson County, but lived in Morgan County, as well.

"I'm an Eastern Panhandle kind of gal," she said.

Her passion is educating youth.

"I want to encourage children to proceed with higher education because they need to be able to compete globally," Hamilton said.

As an advocate for education, Hamilton served as president, vice president and secretary on the West Virginia Board of Education and was a member of the state School Building Authority.

"She made an enormous commitment, and we should be proud," said last year's Morgan County honoree, Connie Perry, who introduced Hamilton.

She also served as vice president of the West Virginia AFL-CIO, received the West Virginia Celebrate Women Award for Labor and was inducted into the West Virginia Women's Hall of Fame "to better women in the work force," Perry said.

After reading off the long list of Hamilton's accomplishments, including being a 2006 U.S. Olympic torch carrier in Morgantown, W.Va., Perry said: "I don't know about you, but I'm beginning to feel like a slacker in my community," which drew laughter from the crowd.

"We celebrate the fabric of our community that these leaders weave," said Shepherd University president Suzanne Shipley, who emceed the event.

The local Girl Scouts of the Shawnee Council merged last September with the Girl Scout Council of the Nation's Capital.

Diane Tipton, Council board president, said the Girl Scouts "create the leaders of tomorrow and the Women of Distinction of tomorrow."

The Council raised more than $40,000 for the Gold Award Scholarship program that provides Girl Scout scholarships, and proceeds from the luncheon's ticket sales go toward the program, Tipton said.

Tipton recognized Eva Woolridge and daughter Lynne Steptoe of Martinsburg, who made a $25,000 donation to the scholarship program.

Former Women of Distinction attended the luncheon and included Jeanne Mozier, Sally Marshall, Laura Smith, Beth Peters Curtin and Connie Perry, all five Morgan County honorees.

Mozier, a2005 honoree, said all of the Morgan County honorees were involved in youth groups growing up and they are "terrific, dynamic and are truly powers within the Morgan County community."

"All of us benefited from leadership, responsibility and a sense of community, on which the Girl Scouts of America stands," Marshall said.

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