Friday, March 17, 2000

Ceremony salutes Enquirer's 'Women of the Year'

Honor applauds diverse skills

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Past and present honorees at Thursday's luncheon: Evelyn Dixon (1988), Annie Ruth Napier (1999) and Bettye Torrey Oldham (1978).
(Glenn Hartong photo)
| ZOOM |
        The Tristate is a better place to live thanks to the contributions of The Cincinnati Enquirer's 10 Women of the Year.

        Honored Thursday at a Hyatt Regency luncheon, these women promote the arts and advocate for the poor. They get their hands dirty cleaning church floors and raise thousands of dollars for community causes.

        Those who attend the luncheon “always come away in awe of the accomplishments of these women,” Enquirer Publisher Harry Whipple said. “You feel very modest.”

Women of the Year profiles
        Chosen from 107 nominees, the 1999 Women of the Year join a list of 310 others who have been honored since the award made its debut in 1968.

        “It's a personal honor,” said Annie Ruth Napier, one of this year's honorees. “But I also see it as an inspiration to other people, especially for people who grew up with me. They'll say, "Look at little ol' Annie. We went to school with her.'”

        This year's winners are: Mary Lu Aft, president of the Friends of the Public Library; Naomi Pleasant Barkley, a retired environmental scientist active in her church and trustee of Kentucky State University Foundation; Marja Wade Barrett, president of Northern Kentucky Heritage League and arts patron; and Patricia Beggs, managing director of the Cincinnati Opera and volunteer with the Great Rivers Girl Scout Council.

        Also, Barbara Harshman, whose work benefits the arts, the May Festival and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center; Ms. Napier, an artist, writer and children's advocate; Christine Neyer, volunteer with the May Festival Friends and arts patron; Norma Petersen, who works to promote the Greater Cincinnati Arts and Education Center; Dianne M. Rosenberg, an educational diagnostician and school consultant; and Lois Rosenthal, former magazine editor who works to introduce inner-city youth to reading and the arts.

        The award recognizes the hard work and volunteer efforts of area women, said Helen Hinckley, a 1983 Woman of the Year. The 78-year-old former Cincinnati city councilwoman has continued her dedication to the community; she said she still serves on the boards of nine organizations.

        Dabbing palms made sweaty from excitement, Mrs. Harshman talked about the thrill of being among such a select group.

        “It's a wonderful honor,” she said. Mrs. Harshman said she hopes the award spurs more young women to get involved.

        “There are very few volunteers out there who don't think, "Maybe I can be among the (Women of the Year) group at some time,”' she said.

        The Enquirer and The Greater Cincinnati Foundation have teamed up for the second year to encourage donations to the Women's Fund on behalf of the Women of the Year.

        The fund, which has secured gifts and pledges of more than $180,000 so far, is designed to serve as a re source for programs helping women and girls. It also encourages women to become more involved in philanthropy.

        Gifts to The Women's Fund may be made in honor of any Woman of the Year, past or present. For more information, call Patricia Long, regional advancement officer of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, at 241-2880.


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