By TMoM Team Member Suzy Fielders
March is a difficult but motivating month for me. That seems contradictory, right? Let me explain. My daughter has severe food allergies to all nuts and BOTH her anaphylactic reactions happened in March (2011 & 2018). So, needless to say, it’s a little stressful as those memories flood back every March. But… March is also Women’s History Month. I’m so glad it falls within that month, as every time worry creeps in, I must dig into my inner strength as a mom and woman to overcome it.
Other than looking inward, it helps to remember all the strong women I’m surrounded by and the ones in my life and throughout history that I look up to. That is, after all, what Women’s History Month is all about. It’s important to learn lessons from the women in our lives – both present and past. Plus, we need to always take away from this month the importance of being a woman and let that inspire us all year long!
Six Amazing Women with Ties to the Triad
The Piedmont Triad is full of amazing women throughout history from our beginnings to now. I wanted to share a little bit about a few women from or who moved to our area that I find inspiring.
I’m a writer so it’s only fitting I include another writer on my list of inspiring women. Maya Angelou’s poems inspired not only me, but countless others. While many know Maya for her writing, not as many know she was also the first female black director in Hollywood. President Clinton even awarded her with the National Medal of Arts in 2000. Maya moved to Winston-Salem in 1981 and made a name for herself here as well. Regardless of the fact she had no bachelor’s degree she became the first Reynolds Professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University in 1982. She resided in Winston-Salem until she passed away in May 2014. She lived such an accomplished life and always strived to be her best self; it would be impossible to not find her inspirational.
Born in 1768 in Guilford County, Dolley Madison, wife to 4th U.S. President James Madison, is the only North Carolina born first lady. Her gracious and elegant personality helped her to set a high bar for the position of first lady. Dolley was known for smoothing over many political arguments. She was even the initial first lady featured on a U.S. coin when the U.S. Mint featured her on a 1999 commemorative silver dollar. Many people might not know prior to becoming first lady she was previously married and had two sons. Unfortunately, she lost her husband and one of her sons to yellow fever. Even after all that loss, she continued on as women must do and eventually became a remarkable first lady helping lead our nation!
As a past single mom, Cryshaunda Rorie’s story really spoke to me. This brave local mom from High Point battled pancreatic cancer not once, but twice. The first time she did this while also dealing with a divorce and raising her six-month-old daughter. Many people would let those hardships crush them, but Cryshaunda rose above it all and found a way to let it motivate others dealing with cancer. She did this by writing the book, Confessions from Cancer: Know Your Role. It serves as a self-help book for not only those battling cancer but also their loved ones dealing with it alongside them. As a writer I know how difficult it is to write about hardships in your life, as I previously wrote about my miscarriage last year and the chaos that was 2017 for me. So, I found it very inspiring Cyrshaunda was able to share her story in hopes of helping others dealing with a similar struggle that she was dealing with too.
Katherine Smith Reynolds
Anyone from or who has moved to Winston-Salem, likely has at least heard of Katherine Smith Reynolds. After all, The Katherine Brasserie & Bar, a French restaurant on Main Street, is named after her! While she was born in Mt. Airy in 1880, Winston-Salem was her home for most of her years as she was married to R.J. Reynolds, who founded R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. Their home, Reynolda House, is now a museum and staple historical site in Winston-Salem. She was always a strong advocate for women, children, and the arts. She even advocated for hot lunches and water fountains for a nursery at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company to help working mothers. After her husbands passing, she donated both money and land to build R.J. Reynolds High School. It’s hard to visit or live in Winston-Salem and not see the impact Katherine had on this city.
Rosemary Ann Harris
Finally, my last Triad lady I find inspiring is actress Rosemary Ann Harris. Many might recognize her from recent movies like the Spiderman Trilogy featuring Tobey Maguire and This Mean War. However, she’s built an impressive acting background dating back to 1954. Her acting career landed her a Primetime Emmy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a Tony Award, as well as an Academy Award nomination. While she was born in England in 1927, her and her husband moved to Winston-Salem in 60’s. Her daughter, fellow actress Jennifer Ehle, was born in Winston-Salem. Rosemary and her late husband, John Ehle, are attributed to much of “the early success of UNCSA and the artistic growth of Winston-Salem,” according to write up on the James G. Hanes Foundation. Arts, from acting to music to dance, is important to Winston-Salem’s history and future. It’s this rich history and focus on arts that makes me love living in Winston-Salem. I’m so grateful for people like Rosemary who played a role in helping our city build our arts education and culture!
Mary Webb Nicholson
I love to travel and particularly love traveling by airplane. North Carolina women can thank Mary Webb Nicholson for paving the way for female aviators in our state. Mary, born in Greensboro in 1905, was the first woman in North Carolina to earn a pilot’s license. She further set the way for female pilots as she was one of the founding members of the Ninety-Nines, which was an international organization of female pilots. Amelia Earhart was also a part of this organization; in fact, she was the president from 1931 to 1933. Ultimately, Mary gave her life doing what she loved and serving our country (and allies), as she crashed when she was flying for the Royal Air Force during WWII and 1943.
I hope you feel as inspired by these women and their accomplishments as I do! Be sure to comment below with some women in the Triad who have made an impact on your life and our local communities.
About the Author:
Suzy was born and raised in Winston-Salem, NC and is now raising her daughter here. She and her daughter started the homeschool journey in 2018 and love it. She received her B.A. in Communications and Psychology from Coker College in SC and her M.A. in Communication Studies from UNC-Greensboro. After working in marketing since 2007, she tried a change of pace in 2019 when she became the G.M. at Rockin’ Jump Trampoline Park in Winston-Salem. In 2021, she decided to branch out from freelance writing to full-time writing and helps small businesses and mompreneurs with their content marketing. She is also writing her first book! When not writing, she loves spending time with her daughter and husband! Additionally, Suzy and her husband are expecting a baby girl in June 2022!
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