10 Extraordinary Women, Part I Lives to Inspire Us All
I never met Susan Butcher, but she had graced my living room so often via television—and held me spellbound—I felt she was almost a member of the family.
Butcher was so alive, so buoyant and outgoing, it’s difficult for me to transfer her into my mental inventory of people who are no longer with us.
Butcher was a spectacular human being. I made some notes and came up with a list of 10 women who fascinate me. No doubt you have others who mean a great deal to you, and I’d like to hear about them. I think readers would also.
10 Extraordinary Women (in alphabetical order)
1. Tenley Albright, M.D. (b. 1935)
Tenley Albright is one of those rare individuals who became world class in two totally different disciplines. I remember the coldest I’ve ever been in my life was one day in February 1952 as I waited—seemingly forever—at the newly completed outdoor ice rink in Andover, Mass., for a short skating exhibition by Olympic silver medallist Albright. The wait was worth it.
At age 9, Albright began a regimen of skating lessons, which were interrupted two years later when she contracted a mild form of polio. “When I came down with polio, at first nobody knew whether I ever would walk again or not,” she said in a 1991 interview. Albright returned to the ice with the philosophy, “If you don’t fall down, you aren’t trying hard enough; you aren’t trying to do things that are hard enough for you.” She entered Radcliffe and undertook a punishing schedule that began with skating practice from 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. and included classes as a pre-med student, lab sessions, ballet lessons and, of course, homework.
Over the years Albright won a slew of championships, including five consecutive U.S. singles titles, a North American title and two world titles. In Cortina, Italy, skating in great pain with an ankle injury that had been patched up by her surgeon father, Albright became the first American skater to win the gold at the 1956 Olympics. Many championship athletes retire and rest on their laurels, becoming pitch persons and endorsers, the high point of each year when they attend old-timer events.