In honor of Women’s History Month, I want to spotlight these women:
Annie Oakley (1860 – 1926) The most famous female sharpshooter of all times. It was her height (5 ft. tall) and her amazing accuracy that had Chief Sitting Bull name her “Little Sure Shot”. She starred in the Wild West Show for over 16 years. At a time when women were considered to be less capable than men in all areas, she found something she was passionate about and perfected it, surpassing most men in the field.
Kathrine Switzer (1947 – present) In 1967, Kathrine, at 20 years old, made history when she defiantly became the first woman to officially run in the Boston Marathon, even when officials tried to physically stop her. After her coach insisted a marathon was too far to run for a “fragile woman”, she trained for and completed the Boston Marathon. She registered as K.V. Switzer and no one noticed she was a woman until about 2 miles into the race. A race official grabbed her and said, “Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers” as he tried to take her bib number. Her boyfriend at the time intervened and she was able to continue running. However, she was later disqualified from the race and at the finish line, some journalists yelled at her, “Real women don’t run.” As a consequence of her efforts, women were allowed to officially run in the Boston Marathon in 1972.
Diana Nyad (1949 – present) Endurance swimmer. Diana Nyad completed a historic 110-mile swim from Cuba to Florida becoming the first person to do so in 2013. It was her 5th attempt. Her first attempt was in 1978. She tried 3 times in 2011 and 2012. What makes her final attempt even more impressive, is she completed this swim at the age of 64 years old. As she came out of the water and spectators surrounded her, she said, “I have 3 messages. One is, we should never ever give up. Two is, you’re never too old to chase your dream. Three is, it looks like a solitary sport, but it is a team.”
Stephanie Kwolek (1923 – 2014) Inventor of Kevlar. After graduating from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Stephanie joined the chemical company, DuPont, where she would spend 40 years of her career. She was assigned to work on formulating new synthetic fibers, and in 1965 she made a very important discovery. While working with a liquid crystal solution of large molecules called polymers, she created an usually lightweight and durable new fiber. This material was later developed into Kevlar, a tough yet versatile synthetic used in everything from military helmets and bulletproof vests to work gloves, sports equipment, fiber-optic cables and building materials. She was inducted to the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1994.
Melitta Bentz (1873 – 1950) Inventor of the coffee filter system. Have you ever wondered who to thank when you’re getting your coffeemaker ready for your first cup of the day? A German housewife, Melitta Bentz, updated brewing for the modern world. At the turn of the 20th century, the usual method was to tie up coffee grounds in a small cloth bag and place the bag into a pot of boiling water; the result was a bitter, gritty drink. Melitta came up with a new method. She put a piece of thick, absorbent paper into a brass pot with a few holes pushed in it and poured the coffee through the 2-part contraption. This trapped the grounds and allowed filtered liquid to seep through and drip into a cup. She received a patent for her coffee filter system in 1908 and founded a business that still exists today.
With much love,