Friday, March 19, 2004

Enquirer honors 10 women at luncheon



By Maggie Downs
The Cincinnati Enquirer

women of the year
From left to right: Honorees Nancy Schellbous Conner, Diane Dewbrey, and Karen Bennett Hoeb.
(Michael E. Keating/The
Cincinnati Enquirer)
Karen Bennett Hoeb beamed as women reached through a crowd to shake her hand and sprinkle her with congratulations.

The Sycamore Township resident is one of the Enquirer Women of the Year 2004. She was chosen for her work with Jobs for Cincinnati Graduates, the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and the Farmer Family Foundation.

"It's amazing to be honored among all these women I have admired for years," Hoeb said. "Every face here tells a story."

Ten women were honored Thursday during a luncheon at the downtown Hyatt Regency. They were: Hoeb, Nancy Schellhous Conner, Penny Kereiakes Pomeranz, Katherine W. Lawrence, Lillian H. Jones, Sister Ann Rene McConn, Diane Dewbrey, Reba St. Clair, Nancy Barone Kremer and Phyllis Shapiro Sewell.

They join the list of women honored with the award since 1968. Many return annually to usher in the next class of honorees.

"You know what they say. Once an Enquirer Woman of the Year, always an Enquirer Woman of the Year," said Juanita M. Adams, an award winner in 1997 for community service work. "It's important to come back and support each other."

The women, who come in all ages, races and backgrounds, are modest in their accomplishments. Take Alice Skirtz, for example, a winner in 1986 for her efforts with the Salvation Army and the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless.

"The day of the awards reception, I would have just as soon gone to a faraway place," she said, still blushing years later. "It was just nice to have work for homeless recognized. That's what was really important."

The more than 120 former award winners in attendance were an energetic crowd, creating a kaleidoscope of colorful suits and flamboyant hats. Among them, they've fed the hungry, housed the homeless, educated others and championed the rights of minorities.

"This award really singles out the common woman who gives back in extraordinary ways," Adams said.

E-mail mdowns@enquirer.com




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