A Message From The President

August 2012

The Athena year started with a song – well, many songs. Jean McNally selected the perfect venue and arranged a fast-paced, music-filled, fun Retreat weekend. It started with an extravaganza. Susan Dellinger arranged, choreographed and directed the Athena Playas in a musical “throwndown” between the Extreme Supremes (Jean McNally, Laura Kolkman, Anne Kantor, Adelaide Few, Maria Howey and Stephanie Ferrell) and the GoGo Girls (Emmy Acton, Jean Amuso, Annette DeLisle, Cynthia Gandee, Anne Gormly and me). Dena Leavengood handled costuming and backstage organization. An eclectic compilation of musical talent produced a playful view of the role of women throughout the decades. If you missed it, the photos and video of the stage production (yes, there is a video thanks to producer Louise Thompson), can be found in the Historic Archive section on the member-only area of the Athena website under Historic Archive. The link is www.athena-society.com/historic-archive/treasures-from-retreat/. It will only activate if you are signed into the Athena website, so contact Eleanor if you need assistance. The music played throughout the retreat came from suggestions offered in advance by members and reflected a rich diversity of genre and era, with some surprises. The music sparked dinnertime conversations that often started with a song and ended with a story. On Saturday evening retreat goers received two CDs of the music sampling to keep us singing and dancing as we start this year.

My summer was filled with transitions, starting with retirement, and ending with a tour of colleges with my youngest son –his first real step to adulthood. It was only due to the luck of his birthday that I did not have to actually send him off to college at the same time that I said farewell to a wonderful career and colleagues that I loved. In both cases, I found myself assessing the contributions I had made and hoping they exceeded my shortcomings.

Sadly, also over the summer, we bid farewell to Cecile Essrig, an Athena member who was an exemplary model of balance between career contributions and family. Many of us visited with the Essrig family during the evening hours set aside to express support and condolences for the loss of Cecile. There I met Cecile’s sister, Regena Bragin and her husband Stephen. Stephen must have seen my expression as I scanned the faces of the Waterman-Essrig clan. With a smile in his voice, he said that looking down the table during holiday meals, he often thought, “Those are some strong genes!” Indeed! I could picture the table. These strong and striking women all at one table, and I had to smile. What a gift!

The local newspaper recounted many of the public contributions of Cecile, but I was moved by my personal recollections of Katherine and Lee with Cecile, and I could picture those family dinners. Cecile’s community contributions highlighted the values she placed on education, listening and respect. One need only to look at her family, imagine that wonderful dining room table, to see these gifts reflected in her daughters.

As always, I am looking forward to a wonderful Athena year because there is no end to the creativity and positive energy of this group of remarkable women!