My step-mom,Suzan Porter, recently passed away in Libby, Montana.
She has left a gaping hole in our family,especially in my Dad's heart.
She left us,though, with the inspiration to live life with "joie de vie", french for joy of life.
Suzan flew aerobatic planes with my Dad in the Budweiser airshow in the 1980's and early 90's. Also a scuba diver, horseback rider, tennis player, and expert bridge player, she lived life with gusto, and a love for adventure.
Even in her suffering in the end, she never complained. She faced her illness with grace and courage.
A breast cancer survivor for many years, she inspired me to become involved in the "Susan G.Komen Race for the Cure" here in Portland.
Suzan mattered, and I dedicated my recent appearance at the Women of Achievement banquet in Vancouver to her memory.
She would have liked that, I think.
Because the event sponsored by Clark College and Clark County YWCA honored incredible women of achivement in Vancouver.
(As emcee, I was proud to congratulate Sister Joelle Aflague, a 2007 Woman of Achievement.)
One of the women who was honored, Kathi Wiley Gladson, inspired us all with her quote from Leo Rosten.
"The real meaning of life is to matter, to make a difference that you lived at all.
(2007 Woman of Achievement Kathi Wiley Gladson (left) gets a hug from an admirer.)
The eight Women of Achievement certainly have mattered, and made a big difference in their community.
Among their achievements;ministering to the sick and bereaved; championing conservation;serving on the Vancouver School Board;helping pass school levies;creating a nutrition training program for teachers;promoting diversity in schools,mentoring students; establishing the "Dreamers" program;and serving as an exchange director for the Columbia-Cascade Friendship Force.
Their accomplishments go on and on, but the one thing that stood out for me is their desire to make a difference, and to make Vancouver and Clark County a better place to live for everyone.
We are all better off,because of their efforts.
The 2007 Women of Achievement are :
Sister Joelle Aflague
Joy Imboden Overstreet
Kathi Wiley Gladson
(YWCA Community Service Award winner Kayla Griffin (left) and Young Woman of Achievement Nicole Schriock (center) receive congratulations from Jim Jacks, Southwest Washington representative for Governor Chris Gregoire.)
The event also honored eight young women of achievement... high school students who are already leaving their mark on the Northwest.
Nicole Schriock-Fort Vancouver High
Ashli-Marie Grant-Vancouver School of Arts and Academics
Kayla Griffin-Fort Vancouver High
Menglu Michelle Jiang-Mountain View High
Jane Lee-Mountain View High
Jessica Stavig-Hockinson High
Amy Tedder-Battle Ground High
Andrea Trujillo- Columbia River High
(Guests at the 2007 Women of Achievement luncheon included (left to right) Pat Watne, former director of women's studies at Clark College, who established the Women of Achievement celebration; Clark College Interim President Bob Knight; and Donna Roberge, former professor of sociology at Clark College, who established the scholarship fund for the Young Woman of Achievement Award.)
It seemed fitting as I mourned the loss of my Step-mother to be asked to host such an uplifting and inspiring event.
I hope I can honor Suzan Porter's memory by living my life as the 2007 Women of Achievement have lived theirs... they have more than mattered,
they have taught us about life... perhaps best described in another quote... this one from Robert Byrne,
"The purpose of life is a life of purpose."