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Viewpoint: Women keep supporting women through Network

By Marcy Doyle, Red Wing

As we look forward to a new year with Red Wing Area Women's Network, we reminisce about the past 35 years.

About 40 years ago a group of Red Wing women met with the purpose of forming support groups through seminars, meetings and personal contact.

"Women Concerned" had a dozen objectives for women gainfully employed or not. Prime were women's issues. Officers were elected but sadly there was no follow through. Action followed later.

Within three years, Red Wing's League of Women Voters was the ready-vehicle to plant a seed and invite interested women to stable network. In two years, Red Wing Women's Network was established.

Network is a forum with a mission statement, which is "To meet and exchange current information with other area women in business, professional and/or organizational areas." The latter was of particular interest and was led by community-minded homemakers.

Current events

The loosely knit group has survived many years with no membership-no dues program. It moves along with our 35 volunteers leading the way. In the first years, local citizens were encouraged to speak, especially Network women. Recently, since Red Wing continues to be such a vibrant community with many issues and projects, local voices need to be heard.

Pitches for politics, sales, etc. have always been banned.

At monthly meetings, pertinent, current matters are presented by visiting guests also. For many years, five guests per year arrived through the Anderson Center. From New York to California and from Africa to England to Norway, speakers have come — as have prominent Minnesotans. Many of the most interesting presentations have come from local people, both past and present. As examples include Caroline Marshall, writer; Marge Vogel, architect; Jo Doyle Prahl, business executive; and Elly Prahl, floral designer, who all provided touching presentations.

Women attend meetings as their interests and calendars dictate. Each person is responsible for making a reservation and paying for lunch.

Well-known speakers have been Governors Harold Stassen and Elmer Anderson and Police Chief Tony Bouza. Other out-of-towners have spoken once or more times such as Lt. Gov. Marlene Johnson, Secretary of State Joan Growe and Speakers of the Minnesota House of Representatives Dee Long and Margaret Anderson Kelliher.

Internationally known Arvonne Fraser and the late Koryne Horbal, acclaimed for the work at the United Nations in New York, have spoken. Horbal was a friend and livid with Gloria Steinem, who often visited Horbal in Minnesota.

Each speaker relates beginnings and experiences, which resulted in their past and current work.

Hall of Fame

The Red Wing Women's Hall of Fame was instigated through Network. Each year in March, International Women's Month, two to three local women are inducted into the Hall. Red Wing Area Women's Network recognizes local women who have contributed in particular ways to the cities growth and development. Honorees are chosen in categories of agriculture, athletics, arts, business/finance, civic leadership, communications, education, health professions, law, public service and science/technology and volunteerism.

A three-member committee to recommend future honorees was established the first year. Honorees to date are:

2007 — Jean Chesley, Catherine Ullrich, Marjorie Gray Vogel

2008 — Suzanne Blue, Marcy Doyle, Mary Miller

2009 — Jeanne Ode, Gertrude Richardson, Berdell Eastlund, Dorothy Holmes

2010 — Lois Burnes, Carol Duff, Carolyn Hedin, Mary Weigenant

2011 — Jane Donkers, Donna Dummer, Anne Jacobson

2012 — Audrey Bennett, Roseanne Grosso, Linda Thielbar

2013 — Helen Bell, Joan Foot, Pam Horlitz, Neela Mollgaard

2014 — Judy Christianson, LaVonne Lommel, Gladys Savage

2015 — Diane Hallstrom, Anne Jones, Kay Kuhlmann

2016 — Carmen Edwards, Lydia Elizabeth Hedin, Heidi Jones, Evelyn Sweasy

2017 — Lisa Bayley, Ruth Nerhaugen, Evy Wedde

In 35 years, more than 650 women have taken advantage of Women's Network — which was and is a means for women to support women.

Red Wing Area Women's Network gives women a resounding avenue to participate in community affairs and decisions.

You are invited to come the second Wednesday of the month September through May to join friends and meet new ones. The Victorian Dining room at the St. James Hotel is the regular meeting room for a one hour of networking, lunch and a program.