Born Ava Margaret Kinnison in Willoughby Ohio in 1914, my mother led a remarkable life.
She left a sheltered life in a small Midwestern town at the age 18 and traveled across the country to attend the University of Arizona in Tucson. At that time the University was of the edge of the desert and she enjoyed riding her horse every day. In addition to being an accomplished horse woman, she was a concert level pianist and soprano soloist. She finished her college career at the University of Chicago with a degree in Political Science in 1937. She was the only woman on the all-male debate team (my Mom NEVER lost an argument!) and lived in the International House because of her devotion to equality for all.
I was her second child, born in 1943, and days after my birth, my father went off to World War II as a Navy Lieutenant on an LST. Sadly, he had told my Mom before he left that he would not return to her after the war. And so, she raised my brother and me as a single parent from 1943 until 1961 when she finally remarried. She had always wanted to be a City Manager but those positions were not open to women in her day, so she became the best medical secretary that ever existed.
In her sixties she and her third husband bought and ran a 400 acre cattle ranch near Oakhurst CA (just miles from Yosemite). I can still see her saddled up and chasing cows! She was dedicated throughout her life to her faith and to being a leader in her church. She even took a trip around the world to visit Presbyterian missions in dozens of countries.
Although we had our struggles as a single-parent family, she instilled a deep faith in me, was a wonderful grandmother to my children, and set an example of what women can accomplish and be in this world.
She would have turned 100 this past year. I hope that in my next decades of life I can have a tenth of her courage to face life as it is.