Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Strong Woman

Posted August 24, 2009

Who is the strongest woman in your life?  What qualities set this person apart?  Historically, what females come to mind as strong and powerful role models? Please share your thoughts.

I’d like to thank Dolley Madison for inspiring today’s blog topic. On this day in 1814 the Guilford County native calmly led the evacuation of America’s executive mansion.  British troops had set fire to the mansion. Dolley, the wife of President James Madison, made sure a portrait of George Washington and other important items and documents were safely removed from the burning structure. After the fire the mansion was restored, given a coat of fresh paint and a new name – The White House.

Dolley Madison was a vivacious extrovert with an incredible memory for names. She could run rings around anyone in the social circles of Washington. Many credit Dolley with a major role in her husband’s re-election in 1812. She knew lots of people and they loved and admired her.

Does anyone in your life remind you a little of Dolley Madison?  Feel free to honor that person with your words today.


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  • thinknc Aug 24, 2009

    My children called her "BB." She was my aunt-my mom's older sister by 10 years, and the strongest woman I have ever known. I didn't know until recently that she had to quit school after 6th grade to help care for her 6 siblings, because she had the kind of smarts that no college degree can certify. Married at 18, she lived with her husband and took care of her father-in-law, who was in poor health. Her own husband was stricken with arthritis early in life, so BB took on the work he could not do--hooking up implements to the tractor, moving heavy bags of fertilizer, all the while doing the cooking and cleaning. Unable to have children of her own, she filled a niche in my life. My own mother was in and out of hospitals, but this lady made sure I was cared for and loved. She could banish any fear with her warmth and kindness. When her own husband's arthritis made it impossible for him to drive, BB got her license for the first time--at 65. She died at 86, but is with me still.

  • lseltmann Aug 24, 2009

    I am fortunate to come from a long line of strong women. One great-grandmother had 13 children, the other 9 all whom went on to college studying education, medicine or law. One great-aunt was one of the first to attend Peace College. My grandmother was the youngest to attend at about 13. Another great-aunt taught multiple generations school in Sampson Co. My mother has passed on to me her love of science and the outdoors. She studied Science when few women did. I hope to continue this tradition of strong women in my family and pass on these qualities to my daughter.

  • starbutterfly10252 Aug 24, 2009

    All women are strong in their own way. I would like to think I am one. I am only 26 years old so I am in the younger category. I have survived cervical cancer twice and after the first time I had my miracle baby, my baby boy DJ. I married an abusive man and then left when he turned on our son. I have survived a deadly bout with Gall stones and pancreatitis over a year ago only to lose my job. I thank God everyday for finding me a new one to support my son and I.
    I have battled many internal and external demons all the days of my life. Just like everyone else. I am strong not only for me, but for my son. Any mother would risk and put their lives on the line for their children. I actually proved. I never thought my life would turn out like it has but I am thankful for my lessons and my strength.

  • blytle Aug 24, 2009

    I have two women to mention. The first is my Granny B, my father's mother, who passed away when I was a senior in high school. For most of my growing up years we lived next door to her and I learned from her that it doesn't take much to make you happy. She was widowed when my father was 12 years old, but she worked hard, raised him while keeping her home and the adjacent apartment that she rented out. She had many friends and was the first woman, after about a 100 year interval, to be ordained as a deacon at First Baptist Church in Raleigh. She was one of the finest women I have ever known. Another fine woman is my mother-in-law, Myrtle Lytle of Clemmons, North Carolina. She, too, is strong, but so loving and would do anything for her family. She knows how to cook, especially fresh vegetables, and she is always happy to help me whenever I ask. She is a very active member of her church and I admire her very much. Thanks for the opportunity to share about these women!

  • LMRA Aug 24, 2009

    Some of my favorite women in history are Abigail Adams (all she did while her husband was in Philadelphia!), Amelia Earhardt (imagine what she had to go through to be able to fly?), Bella Abzug (a female Congresswoman in the 60's and 70's from New York), and Eleanor Roosevelt (all her travels across the country to see for herself the results of the Depression).

    I feel as though they all had a part in making the world open and accessible to women.

  • ysq2 Aug 24, 2009

    I have 2 wonderful women.

    I had a wonderful opportunity once to meet Maya Angelou. She was so beautiful and graceful. Not only was she African American, she was a woman. I learned then that women do not have to be loud and aggressive to be strong. Strength comes from within.

    My husband's grandma, was divorced from her alcoholic husband in the 1950's. She single-handedly raised 10 children. No public support, no frills, just firm guidance and hard work. She was also an amazing cook. I was always in awe of her and what she had accomplished, but was so humble about it.

  • bleslie Aug 24, 2009

    Great story about Nana! Tough, smart and resourceful!

    How about some others with stories?

  • LMRA Aug 24, 2009

    I would like to nominate my Nana (she is deceased but is 'with me' every day). Her name was Rose Piscitelli Senior.

    She was my maternal grandmother. She was the toughest woman I have ever met. When her father passed away, my great-grandmother went to work & Nana took care of her brother & sisters. She washed the clothes & cooked the meals. She was only 10.

    After she married my grandfather (Papa) she had my Mother & then could not have any more children. She adopted a little boy who was very sick but she made his last days as wonderful as possible. Later, she adopted another little boy - my Uncle Bob who she raised as her own.

    She could do anything. If she had gone to college, she would have been an electrical engineer. One day, I watched her rewire a toaster! She could cook and sew like no one else. She had lots of words of wisdom - most I can't include here!

    There is a lot more. 1000 characters is not enough to do her justice! I miss her everyday.

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Bill Leslie