Feminists of the 70s

Today I’m feeling blessed, fortunate and nostalgic all at once while reaching for words to describe the synchronicity and synergy that I’m feeling simultaneously today.

In the last 24 hours I have been reunited, albeit electronically, with my dear friend and colleague Henley Gabeau after countless years.   Next, out-of-the-blue, my phone rang announcing caller Doris Heritage.   It always makes my day whenever I see her name.  Our near-hour-long conversation made my year!  At least to date it has — I’ll allow it’s early in the year and who knows if and how it could get any better.

Talk about synchronicity!
Doris and Henley in the same couple of hours!  It’s a good day.

Doris Brown Heritage & Jacqueline 2016, Eugene, OR

What’s the connection, you ask?
Henley published an article yesterday in which she defined the impetus to her feminist activism being the year in which we met at the 1977 International Women’s Conference in Houston.  Following this event, we shared our experience as International Runners Committee members, with the common goal to include women’s distance events in the Olympic Games.  Doris called me, specifically with questions about the IRC.  She was being interviewed by a journalist and she needed some information.   Details aside, we spent the rest of the time reminiscing.

Such happenstance!

Henley’s excellent article came to my attention several times, thanks to RRCA Executive Director Jean Knaack, and former RRCA President Jeff Darman for posting Henley’s article yesterday, and also to running podiatrist Ed Lopez for tagging me on a separate posting of the same article.  (Moments like this make FB worthwhile.)   So I quickly sent off an email to Henley and she immediately wrote back that she was hoping this would find me.  Henley, you should know, started the Women’s Distance Festival in the RRCA under the leadership of Jeff Darman.  Here is her article.

Henley Gabeau wrote: http://bit.ly/2jHQnoO

If you have read my blog before and/or read my book chapter 15, “Years of the Women,” you see that I wrote my version of the encounter Henley and I had in 1977.  Besides the two of us that day, I was with Leal-Ann Reinhart and Henley was with Peggy Kokernot and Mary Cullen.  Peggy was the star of the conference event torch relay that day and Mary was/is a Houston runner and benefactor of running and the arts.  I’m happy to say that best friend Leal and I never lost touch, and that Peggy and I had our long awaited reunion last June at the Olympic Track & Field Trials.  As well, I do keep track of Mary Cullen from afar through mutual friends.


IRC group photo circa 1979: Jacqueline, Dave Billington, Nina Kuscsik, Joe Henderson, Ken Young, Eleonora Mendonca, Jeff Darman, Tom Sturak, Joan Ullyot, Henley Gabeau, (lower) Doris Brown Heritage.



As for all the other IRC members, I’ve happily remained in touch all this time with Joe Henderson ( lucky me – who better to edit my book), Janet Heinonen, Joan Ullyot, and Nina Kuscsik.  I re-connected with Lyn Billington on FB and with Eleonora Mendonca at Boston, both in 2016.  Ken Young and I were in touch during the book writing, when he provided accuracy in race results for my book.  Of course, all of us mourn the loss of three members, my late husband Tom Sturak, teammate Miki Gorman and renowned coach Arthur Lydiard.  The only member I cannot account for is Sarolta Monspart of Hungary.

Margaret Mead wrote (and I favor this quotation), “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever does.”
Synergy comes to mind.

Today, Henley is on her way to the women’s march in D.C. and I’m sure we all wish her Godspeed.  In her words, she hopes transformative groups will evolve and bring change for the betterment of others: “My belief, based on experience, is that women can do it — and will — and the march will sow those seeds.”   I believe Peggy is joining a march too, closer to her home.  Godspeed.  It seems feminists of the 70s are unstoppable, they just find another cause.  Wherever you may find yourself today, whatever you are doing, Godspeed.

“First Ladies of Running are Unstoppable” T-shirt compliments of author Amby Burfoot: Sara Mae Berman, Jacqueline, Cheryl (Bridges) Treworgy, Julia Chase Brand, Patti Lyons, Eleonora Mendonca, Nina Kuscsik at Boston 2016.


8 Replies to “Feminists of the 70s”

  1. It’s so good Jacqui that over the years you’ve been able to keep in touch with so many……..and many before fb!!

    1. Lyn, I am so happy you and I are in contact. We lived in such interesting times. There’s a kind of joy in sharing.

  2. Thank you to you wonderful women who broke ground for the rest of us. Henley is my mom, and you, Joan Ullyot and others were my early runner heroines.

    I was privileged to run beside her 41 years ago when she took her first steps as a runner. And I was privileged to watch her become my WonderWoman!

  3. Talk about synchronicity and synergy…. That’s how I felt yesterday in response to the O GLOBO newspaper article about the feminism of the sport in the 70’s.

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