Editor’s Note

Laura Pace Lilley, PIO

“In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.” -Sheryl Sandberg

My great-grandmother, Bela Peck, was an exemplary person. Forced to flee her eastern European home during the pogroms, separate from her husband, who was drafted into the Russian army, she grabbed her two toddlers and headed west. On her way through Poland, she gave birth to my grandmother, bolted across the Atlantic and landed in New York City, waiting for my great-grandfather, who deserted the military, to catch up with her. A single mother with dogged determination, she imbued my grandmother with grit and the attitude that something good always comes out of something bad, although it might take a while to see it. When her husband joined her, they had baby number four and then he promptly died, leaving her alone with four children in a new world. Tough as nails.

She’s just one of the women I think about during March, celebrated as Women’s History Month. Among the others who’ve meant something to me: Laura Ingalls Wilder, whose prose pulled me into another lifetime and started me on a journey of reading. Her eloquent and engaging books made me thankful for indoor plumbing and antibiotics.

Helen Keller certainly had every reason in the world to stay in the darkness, but she lived a life of optimism, drive and hope. (The common denominator that drew me was Melissa Gilbert, who played both Laura Ingalls and Helen Keller during her acting career.)

Katherine Switzer was the first woman to officially run the Boston Marathon, even though she was physically assaulted by the race director, who tried to pull her off the course because she was a woman. Back in 1967, myth held that women who ran risked their uteruses falling out. I mean, sometimes it sure feels like it.

Keary McFeeley, one of my son’s teachers at Mt. Lebanon High School, who stood up to me when I insisted he not drop out of orchestra. I loved music in high school and wanted him to have those experiences. Plus, Mt. Lebanon’s programs are second to none. But he did not like it and it caused him daily stress. When I bristled at his dropping out, I said “But those are his people.” She paused and said “Are those his people, or your people? What if quitting something he doesn’t like frees him up to do what he was meant to do?” Later that semester, he started taking photographs for the athletic department and his passion was born.

Please take some time to read this month’s issue, which includes some fabulous women in our community. We will continue to tell their stories and to celebrate them every day of the year.