Lois Graham is a firm believer that the AAUW Mission Statement continues to be relevant in this society. During her career, she lived through several incidents that left an impression. She was the first female to be accepted to the graduate program of the Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering (MMAE) at Illinois Institute of Technology. The president's wife commented that she could do minor repair jobs, such as leaky faucets, for them.
When, as a member of the faculty, she asked why she was not getting raises like the other faculty members; she was told she didn't need them, because she was married. When she tried to get a bank loan to purchase a car, after she was sure she had a summer job which would earn her enough to repay the loan, she again ran into a blank wall.
Access to scholarships and fellowships was an important factor in her life. Lois's father was a faculty member of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). Her parents had borrowed the money to send her older sister to Russell Sage College, but were in no position to do the same for her.
As she was growing up, she had wanted to become a doctor; but the expense of medical school made this an unrealistic goal. She wanted to become an aviatrix, but knew there was not much career future in emulating Amelia Earhart.
During a 2003 interview for a Society of Women Engineers oral history project, as reported in the IIT Magazine Alumni News, she recalled that had also entertained the idea of becoming an airline stewardess. "But there were height and weight restrictions, and I literally outgrew that choice."
Aeronautical engineering seemed a possible entry, so she opted for those courses. In 1945, Lois and another classmate were the first women to graduate with bachelor's degrees from RPI. She worked as a test engineer at the Carrier Corporation, until she found the job repetitive and boring, and had been told that because of her youth, the company would not give her more responsibility.
After the Carrier Corporation experience, teaching was a possible career option. Just before she was to start at Albany School of Education, she was offered a graduate assistantship at IIT, which had decided to admit women to their MMAE department. That solved the money problem for her, and off she went. One little change had to made, to accommodate this first ever female on their staff. A small closet had to be converted to a washroom for her.
Lois stayed with this department at IIT for 39 years; earned her M.SME in 1949; and her Ph.D. in 1959. Lois was the first woman in U.S.A. to earn a doctorate in this field. She says she was fortunate in that she became friends with several of her classmates, and interacted with them socially as well as academically. As a young instructor, she does not recall any overt opposition from the male students in her classes; because they realized she knew what she was talking about.
She became the first female faculty member of the MMAE department at IIT in 1949; and became a full professor in 1975. She loved her work, and enjoyed her colleagues; but often felt she had to constantly prove herself, as she carried her academic and administrative load. Lois was instrumental in getting more women and minority students into the program.
The accolade she received from IIT in 1999 recognized "Lois Graham as a Person of the Millenium, a visionary who will make a lasting impression into the next millennium." One of her former students reports that the engineers whom Lois taught really understood the thermodynamics she taught them. "She was a tough teacher; she was also fair and ethical. Most importantly, she was an outstanding engineer."
Written by Kay Briggs
Our Branch lost a good friend, a mentor, a leader and an advocate with the passing of Anne Malone. Anne joined the St. Lawrence County Branch in 1999, the year after moving to Potsdam (arriving just in time for the Ice Storm!). In the few years she lived here in the North Country, she became an integral part of life in the community, the college and the branch.
Anne served us as Educational Foundation Vice President for four years and as the branch Membership Vice President, recently elected to her second two-year term at our annual meeting in June. Her years on the Board were marked by her constant search for ways to expand AAUW's outreach into the community, her ability to connect and collaborate with other groups and organizations, her never-ending search for equity, her support for education, and her overreaching desire to make thing better for girls and women of all ages and situations. We are much the better for her and her energy.
Anne always knew who she was, what she wanted to accomplish, and how to include and inspire others. Anne will be greatly missed for herself, her vision, and her ceaseless passion and capacity for positive change.
Anne died Monday (September 24, 2007) at her home in Potsdam while under the care of her family and of Hospice and Palliative Care of the St. Lawrence Valley. She is survived by her husband, Milner A. Grimsled; two daughters and sons-in-law, Kathy and Tony Procaccio of Woodridge, IL, Susan and Fernando Carrasco of Chino, CA; one daughter and her partner, Christine Mickles and David Strayer of Crown Point, IN; one son and daughter-in-law, Tom and Bonnie Mickles of Largo, FL; eleven grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.
Anne was born November 10, 1942 in Savannah, GA, the daughter of William Thomas Malone and Eleanor Weeks Malone. She graduated from Hammond High School, Hammond, IN, in 1960. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from Purdue University-Calumet Campus in 1975 and her Master of Arts in Composition Studies and Rhetorical Theory from the same institution in 1977. She earned her PhD in English from the University of New Hampshire in 1997. She married Milner A. Grimsled in Berkeley, CA on May 11, 1989.
Anne was hired at SUNY Potsdam as an Assistant Professor, later promoted to Associate Professor, in the English and Communication Department. During her tenure she was also Director of the College Writing Center (1998-2001) and Director of the Women and Gender Studies Program (2001-2007) which was granted status as a "major" in 2006. She also served as Chair of the SUNY Potsdam Faculty Senate from 2005 until her death.
She was deeply involved in community organizations in the North Country, serving as a board member of the Potsdam Food Co-op for six years and as its newsletter co-editor for nine years. She was a board member of Cinema 10, as well as the current Branch Membership Vice-President for the St. Lawrence County Branch of the American Association of University Women. She also served on the worship committee of the Canton Unitarian-Universalist Church.
In her own words, she wished to be remembered as "an unruly woman who passionately loved her husband and family, and who devoted her life to teaching and research, to creating social change, and to planting lushly unkempt gardens."
The 2009 scholarship was given in memory of long time AAUW member Frances "Fran" Dixson (1921-2008). A non-traditional student herself, Fran went to college in 1970, graduating at age 55 with her BS in Elementary Education. She taught at Madrid-Waddington Central for 10 years. Following retirement, she traveled extensively in Europe and Asia and continued to participate in educational enrichment through SOAR.
The 2007 scholarships were given in memory of long time AAUW member Sarah "Sally" Elizabeth Skyrm, who joined AAUW in 1985 and continued her membership until her recent death in Potsdam in Januray 2007. She came to Potsdam in 1956 where she assumed the position of Music Librarian in the Crane School of Music at the State University of New York, Potsdam. She retired in 1990 after 34 years.
Sally Skyrm was born Feb. 21, 1925 to Roy and Suzanne (Morehouse) Skyrm in Sharon, Pennsylvania. She attended Sharon High School, graduating in 1943. She received a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Oberlin College in 1947 where her major instrument studies were in organ and piano. She then attended the University of Michigan, earning an Associate Master's degree in Library Science in 1955.
Sally was a dedicated librarian who built up Crane Library to a position of prominence among music libraries in New York State and in the Northeast region. She kept abreast of developments in the music world and in the academic curriculum and made sure that Crane Library had the latest materials in all fields of music. She supervised a professional reference librarian, two clerks, and over twenty student assistants. She was a wise and kindly mentor to her student staff and took an interest in them personally as well as professionally.
A gifted musician, her talents benefited both the university and the community. She gave many solo recitals on organ and was the organist for the First Presbyterian Church in Potsdam for many years, where she was also a long-time member. Sally loved to travel and she toured Europe, Greece, the British Isles, and Latin America as well as traveling extensively in the United States. Her nieces remember receiving post cards from Sally from exotic places every year. She continued to travel as long as it was possible for her after her retirement. Sally also loved nature and was committed to environmental causes.
The 2006 Scholarship Award was presented on June 17th at the branch's annual meeting by long-time AAUW member Kay Briggs, in whose honor this year's award is presented.
Kay Briggs, Canton, first joined the local AAUW branch in 1964 and has been active in branch affairs for over forty years. In addition to serving the branch in a variety of elected positions, she was for many years the Public Information Officer for the branch. She built excellent relationships with generations of local media and kept people informed about AAUW activities, programs, and issues.
With her friendly smile and welcoming manner, she has inspired dozens of women to join AAUW during her career. Dr. Anne Malone, chair of this year’s Scholarship Committee and the branch membership vice president, said, “AAUW is delighted to give this year's scholarship in honor of Kay Briggs for her long and continuing support of AAUW locally, her work as branch historian, her community activism, and her role in bringing in new members.”
The 2005 scholarship was in memory of of long time member Wilma “Billie” Cummins, who was at the Canton College Library for many years. A non-traditional student, Billie returned to school after her own children went to school, to pursue library science.
This 2004 scholarship was given in memory of AAUW member Alice Kauffman, a long-time member of the branch who retired as a librarian from SUNY Potsdam.
The 2003 scholarship was given in memory of branch member Cecile A. Pletcher, who died on March 1. Cecilie had been a member of the branch for a number of years, among her many other volunteer and organizational activities. Born in 1945 in Belleville, MI, she attended the University of Michigan and Webster’s College in St. Louis, MO. Cecilie and her husband, Galen, have two children, Jessica and David.
An avid gardener and a skilled photographer, Cecilie devoted many years to the Friends of the Gibson Gallery at SUNY Potsdam, serving as newsletter editor and President. In addition to belonging to AAUW, she was a charter member of the National Organization of Women.
Each spring the St. Lawrence County Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) awards a Memorial Scholarship to a St. Lawrence County resident who is continuing his/her education by transferring from SUNY Canton to an accredited 4-year program. The scholarship is named in honor of a past branch member whose contributions to the branch are remembered. The 2002 AAUW Memorial Scholarship will be named in memory of Ogdensburg native Judith Wagner, who passed away on October 4, 2001.
Judy was a longtime member of the American Association of University Women, beginning her membership in Louisiana. She continued her membership with the St. Lawrence County Branch upon returning to Ogdensburg, serving as president and vice president for program. She was also active on committees dealing with the environment. She had served AAUW NYS as the Director of International Relations in the mid-1990s and more recently as a member of the state’s Public Policy Committee.
In her professional life, Judy had taught at Southeastern Louisiana University, Hammond, LA, and was a longtime English teacher at Ogdensburg Free Academy. She gave as generously of her time to AAUW, as she did to several other community organizations. Many current branch members joined directly as a result of her invitation and inspiration.
The 2001 AAUW memorial scholarship was given in memory of past member, Nelle May Brumelle, (1895-1994). She had been a member of AAUW for 60 years, and maintained her membership to the end of her life.
Nelle Brumelle came to Potsdam in 1926 to teach at what was then the Normal School. She joined the St. Lawrence County Branch of the American Association of University Women in 1932. Except when she was away, or immobilized as with a hip fracture, or when she was in a nursing home, she never missed a meeting or an AAUW event.
In 1984, she was awarded an Honarary Life Membership in the Association, indicating that she had been a member for 50 years. She kept up her branch membership to the end of her life. During her many years as a branch member, she served twice as Vice-President for Program, and as Education Chair.
Nelle had a bachelor's degree from Ohio State University in Columbus, and worked in the office of a lumber company before she became a teacher. During her years at Potsdam, she earned a master's degree at Columbia University, NY.
She retired from the SUNY Potsdam Dept. of Education in 1966. It was a matter of pride with her that she never missed a day's work because of illness. Nelle started the Lambda Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma in Potsdam. She was active in the Christian Science Church and served on the board of the Potsdam Public Museum from 1954 to 1984. During World War II, she did volunteer work for the local Red Cross.
The 1999 AAUW Memorial Scholarships were named in memory of a man who often said he wished he'd had the opportunity to go to college. A small legacy from John Keefe, Jr. was added to the AAUW Memorial Scholarship fund. Income from this fund provides the scholarships. Although Keefe did not get to college, he made sure that his five children did. He was proud that his daughter, Trudy Stacy, Norwood, teaches in the Gouverneur School, and is a member of AAUW. Of Keefe's five grandchildren, two have already graduated from college. One granddaughter, Nicole Stacy, is currently a student at SUNY Potsdam. The others are still in public school.
The 1998 AAUW Scholarship is given in memory of Laurie DeHay, a five-year member of the branch who died unexpectedly. Laurie was active the branch book group and served as the LAF Chair. Laurie was the assistant director of the Massena Public Library and active member of the Seaway Valley Footlighters, a community theater group, in addition to AAUW.