from one of our 52, Mary Anne Campbell:
I was invited to this group after putting up a post about my mother, Mary Coolidge Campbell, on a private page on line. Here's that piece.
My mother graduated from Vassar in mycology soon after World War II. It was the early fifties, she moved west and while looking for work, she met my father, married, and they settled in Portland where she became a stay at home mom, raising six kids. To, as she put it, "keep her sane" she found a part time job in her field.
Every Thursday she'd go into the Oregon Health Sciences University where she had a one day a week gig practicing her field of science, studying and identifying microscopic fungi. My father was angry because she was paid for those days at OHSU. He felt her doing anything that wasn't volunteer work made him look like less of a man.
When he died suddenly, he left my mother with 6 kids aged 8 to 16 and massive debts he hadn't mentioned he was racking up, and a mortgage she had no way to cover. She rolled up her sleeves and walked into OHSU and landed a full time job doing what she was so good at. She paid off the mortgage and the debts.
On her own, leveraging grants and scholarships, she put all six of us through private high schools (Exeter in New Hampshire, Catlin Gabel in Oregon.)
On her own, she got five of us through the best colleges in the country, Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Reed, and me-- the art major-- at UC Davis. Our youngest sister had the misfortune of still having two years to go when Reagan came in and eliminated the grants that had financed the rest of us. She was the only one who didn't get her degree.
My mother remained all through this the most loving, connected, supportive mother anyone could imagine. Funny and playful and deep and intelligent and challenging and beautiful inside and out.
While she was finishing raising us all, my mother wrote a book on Mycology for the technicians she was training at OHSU. When the galley proof arrived she was stunned to see her supervisor's name on the cover. Her own name wasn't even mentioned.
They said "It's standard in academia that the supervisor gets the credit for their subordinate's work." So she fought. They asked her, "What's the matter, Mary, are you menopausal or something?" So she took them to court.
It was decided that she would get credit for her book, but only if she wrote it all over again on her own time, off campus. Which she did. And made it even better. My mother gave equal billing as author to the illustrator whose drawings were such a major part of the book, as well.
The book became "THE" handbook for medical mycology technicians nationwide. The Mayo clinic saw who she was and asked her to come work for them, but she opted to stay in Portland because it's beautiful there, and it was home.
But it was nice, in the end, to be recognized. She died a few years later. They named her laboratory after her. She has a bronze plaque on the wall, so in the end OHSU recognized her and did her that honor. I miss her, my fierce brilliant loving mother, so, so much.
This is where the original post ended, but it is not the only contribution my mother made to the world. Her legacy is both her remarkable contribution to Mycology, and also it is the children she raised with such love. Often, in our effort not to be pigeonholed as only being the ones who raise the children, we forget that raising children is one of the most important tasks we have as a species. Raising children is creating the next generation. It's not the only thing we do, but it's not a small or lesser thing at all.
The book on Mycology and her fight to publish under her own name is "what" she left to this world. Here is "who" she left to this world.
1- Our eldest sister earned her doctorate in Social Work and is the head of a school of social work at a prestigious university. She has spent her lifetime fighting for families and children in the northwest. She is tireless in her championship of the dignity of people of color, people from other cultures, people with low resources. (Her daughter is an attorney fighting for immigrant's rights and dignity. Her son is a doctor studying neurology in hopes of finding healthy cures for mental illness.)
2- Our oldest brother graduated from Yale Law near the top of his class, and after a career in corporate law opened a venture capital firm, finding funding to start up sustainable businesses. (His eldest daughter teaches acting and produces documentary films. His younger daughter works as an assistant enabling people doing great things. )
3- Our next sister has a masters in education, and teaches languages and drama at a local magnet high school. (Her eldest daughter is a physicist who's working with sustainable heating systems for small farms. Her second daughter went to the Peace Corps and is now an Oncology nurse. Her son is a teacher and an author whose books about a brilliant woman detective are selling to young readers all across the country, Her youngest daughter is an artist who works for a group that connects applicants to grants that support life affirming activities. )
4-Our second brother is a consultant who works with community leaders to create healthy civic systems, and in particular mentors police to develop community policing outreach all over the nation. (His eldest daughter is bilingual and works to provide legal support for Spanish speaking immigrants, his younger daughter is a mathematician and a scholar.)
5- Then there's me, teaching leadership through great horsemanship… and my son, a remarkable painter who once, when someone told him "These are so sensitive and heart oriented I assumed they were painted by a woman" My son responded "thank you! What a compliment." And my daughter, who is just out on her own now with a young daughter to raise, starting her own college career in business.
And 6- Our youngest sister, who taught herself the ins and outs of subsidized housing and options in social support, and works long hours every day to provide housing for low income people in her home town. (Her son, who she raised as a single mom, got full ride scholarships through Cornell and then MIT, and is now an engineer traveling the world developing sustainable Urban architecture.)
Powerful women leave powerful legacies. We are my mother's living legacy, and we are all of us fully engaged both in our careers and in the children we're bringing to this world.