Famous Moms Who Went Back To School part 2

Phyllis Godwin

She got her start playing with machinery in her father’s store, Granite City Electric Supply Co., during the 1930s. But in those days, women were not expected to be well-educated, much less run businesses. She did attend college at Pembrooke College (the women’s college at Brown University) and completed a one-year business program at Radcliffe (Harvard didn’t admit women) and got a job as a research assistant. But then she married and quit work and had two daughters.

Eventually, her father’s health began to fail and in 1969 he transferred his Granite City Electric Supply Co. stock to her. She decided to run the business herself rather than sell out or turn over management to others. So at age 43, she went back to school, earning a masters degree in business administration from Suffolk University. She then became involved in marketing projects and eventually began to expand the business. Since then, the $18 million company has grown to a $100 million concern, supplying lighting and other electrical services to the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park and the New Enlgand Patriots, among others, and Phyllis has become known as “the First Lady of the South Shore”.4

Wilma Rudolph

Also known as “The Tornado”, Wilma Rudolph was one of the great American Olympic athletes. In 1956, at age 16, she took home a bronze medal. In 1960, she became the first American to win 3 gold medals in track and field in a single Olympics. She became world-famous as “the fastest woman alive”.

She overcame unbelievable odds, being born prematurely and afflicted by polio. At that time, proper treatment was not easily available to African Americans, and it appeared she would be handicapped for life. But her parents drove her regularly from Clarksville to Nashville where there were doctors willing to treat her. The devotion of her parents is all the more impressive when one considers she had 21 brothers and sisters. She joined her school basketball team but sat on the bench for three years before getting a break. Subsequently, she set records for scoring and led her school to the state championship.

And, yes, she was a working mom who went back to school. She had her first of four children in 1958. She retired in 1962 after winning two events against the Soviet Union. In 1963, she received a full scholarship from Tennessee State University and earned a BA in elementary education. She then worked for many years as a teacher, track coach, and national TV sports commentator. She is the recipient of numerous awards and citations and was inducted into the US Olympic Hall of Fame in 1983.5

Mary Higgins Clark

The author of 42 bestselling novels, with over 100 million copies sold worldwide, Mary Higgins Clark is known as “The Queen of Suspense”. She worked for several years as a copy editor and copywriter before her marriage in 1949. She had already returned to school in 1950, while pregnant with her first child, to study literature at NYU, which inspired her to pursue her talents as a writer. After six years of effort, she got her first short story published. Then after the death of her husband, she began writing short radio scripts. Her agent recognized her talent and convinced her to move on to novels and began a fantastically successful career as a bestselling author.

She is a mother who returned to school specifically to serve as an example to her children. In 1979 she graduated summa cum laude from Fordham University with a Bachelor’s in philosophy. All five of her children have taken up her example and have gone on to achieve great professional success, including her youngest daughter, who has followed in her mother’s footsteps as a successful author. She was named Grand Master of the 2000 Edgar Awards, and an annual Mary Higgins Clark Award has been created by her publisher to recognize authors of suspense.6


4 Lane Lambert, Shattering the Glass Ceiling, The Patriot Ledger, Dec. 5, 2006 http://www.granitecityelectric.com/special/news/detail.php?id=41

5 Wilma Rudolph, Women in History, Living vignettes of notable women from U.S. history http://www.lkwdpl.org/wihohio/rudo-wil.htm

6 Mary Higgins Clark, Bio, bookreporter. com http://www.bookreporter.com/authors/au-clark-mary-higgins.asp

Mary Higgins Clark, Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Higgins_Clark