Paying Tribute: local and global gratitude
She is strong. Resilient. Compassionate. Wise. Kind. Supportive. Thoughtful. She is your mother. Your sister. Your friend. Your teacher. Your mentor. She is every woman who has ever encouraged, empowered, and believed in you.
At the Women’s Fund we believe in paying tribute in honor or memory of the special women, and girls in our lives. A tribute allows you, in your own words, to share your appreciation and gratitude.
With Mother’s Day a month away we are highlighting a couple women who have affected the lives of Women’s Fund supporters and donors. While also reminding ourselves of the power a mother, or grandmother has globally and locally.
Magdalena “Lena” Bauer Patton was a strong, trailblazing woman who was ahead of her time in many ways. She was born in 1912 to German immigrants who came to Springfield, Ohio, for a better life. They owned a bakery and they struggled. Lena was often told in words and in actions that she was less important than her big brother. When his socks were worn through and unfixable, Lena would be expected to wear them. When she dreamed of going to college, she was told women should not be educated.
Lena believed in herself and in the need for women to be educated. She put herself through Wittenberg University during the Depression. She earned a biology degree and graduated in the class of 1933. She worked three jobs while going to school to pay for Wittenberg. She graduated at noon and was back to work at 1:00 p.m.
Lena Bauer Patton was my grandmother. She was hugely influential to me and she is reason I have my career. I would go to her house after school as a young child. She, my grandfather, and I would watch the business news channel (the pre-curser to CNBC) and track individual stocks like Coca Cola, Disney, and Nike. She taught me about being generous while being conservative with spending. She taught me about the joy that comes from spending money on experiences with family and friends.
Despite health and life challenges, she was a shining example of civic involvement. She was on the boards of Ridgewood School and the Y.W.C.A. in Springfield. She had four children and a husband who traveled for his career but she made time to give back. She was the matriarch to her adoring family which also included 10 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren while she was living (now 12).
Lena Bauer Patton believed in education for all. All of her grandchildren have undergraduate degrees and 7 have advanced degrees. She was intellectually curious and always kept up with current events. She read the Wall Street Journal every day of her life until she passed away at the age of 93. Her sharp business acumen was not allowed to flourish due to other life responsibilities.
She is the reason I majored in Economics at The University of Virginia. My first present when I went away to school was my first subscription to the Wall Street Journal. Early in my career, I sent my grandmother a note of thanks and picture of myself in my first real office. I sent her my business card. I had hoped she would smile and keep it on the “ice box”. Instead she cried tears of joy, pride, and happiness.
I asked my grandmother one year at Easter to answer 10 questions I had written about her life and the historic world events she had lived through – the Depression, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, the social and cultural changes in America, etc. At Christmas, she presented me with a notebook filled with pictures, family history, and expanded answers to my many questions. No one else in my family knew I had asked her and received this treasure trove of memories. She passed away on July 20, 2005 surrounded by family – the same way she had lived her pioneering life. At the funeral, I presented copies of her memory book to her children and grandchildren. Her life and her stories – written in her own handwriting – continue to teach us, guide us, and help us as we encounter the challenges and joys of life.
Written by Cary Hanosek, Women’s Fund Programs Committee & Merrill Lynch Financial Advisor
At the Women’s Fund we are working locally to create gender equality and influence in central Ohio. By working with soHza, a company that connects women change makers, we are able to be a part of something even bigger.
soHza believes that when a woman is at the center of change, anything is possible.
soHza facilitates a partnership between local non profits for women and global inspired artist from all over the world. So, as we honor mother’s and women mentors locally we would also like to pay tribute to them globally.
Check out the Women’s Fund’s soHza collection here: http://www.sohza.com/the-womens-fund/