International Women’s Day 2016

Double arc rainbowImpossible to choose just one! But I am remembering and honoring three little-known women from many years ago that profoundly affected my family—the three Foss sisters. These three unmarried women lived together in a house in Des Moines, Iowa. Two of them taught at North High School which my mother attended. The third stayed home and “kept house”.

My mother, one of four children, lost her father when she was four. He fell off the roof of a barn he was helping a neighbor build in Pawnee City, Nebraska. My grandmother moved back to Des Moines and lived with her mother, helping her run a boarding house, while she worked full-time as a clerk in an office. There was little money and no chance of any of her children going to college.

The Foss sisters saw promise in my mother. In the 1920s they gave her the money to go away to college. She had three brothers and was the first and only one in her family who received a college education.

A few years later when I was very young, my mother would take me with her to visit the Foss sisters. I can remember sitting on their horsehair sofa and being admonished beforehand to be very, very good.

As a result of this legacy, my mother later in her life was able to fund a scholarship at the college she attended. And now, although my mother is gone, I continue to use her legacy and inheritance to cover the book costs of young women who are finding it financially difficult to afford to attend college. I share the story of the Foss sisters with them.

The Foss sisters have proved to me that Everywoman can make a difference. May their legacy continue to be passed on through many generations to come.