Remembering Muriel C. Freeman, NLAPW National President 1991-1994
Muriel Freeman (Alexandria Branch, Virginia) NLAPW president 1992-1994, died in November 2017 at age 94. She was not only a writer and an award-winning sculptor, but her full range of community and philanthropic activities leave an impressive legacy of service.
As the president, she chose the theme of “Celebrate Pen Women — to Challenge Yourself — to Create New Horizons — to Catch Your Dream.” One of her goals was to increase membership by 500, and she surpassed that goal by 37.
She has served in many roles, including as president of the Alexandria Branch, national vice president, and executive board secretary pro tem. At the national level, she was also a member of the Art Board, Bylaws Committee, and 1992 Biennial Committee.
Freeman was a sculptor whose media included stone, clay, plaster, cast paper, and concrete. Her works, which range from traditional portrait sculpture to nonobjective figurative forms, received outstanding awards and critical acclaim. She could not remember when she did not have a kiln in her home.
Born in Minnesota and raised in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Freeman married her high school sweetheart. Together they raised five children. She taught elementary school children and later became the first director of the Fairfax County Virginia Activity Center for Retarded Adults.
She served in leadership roles with many other organizations. She and her late husband, Clifford, were the recipients of Maryland Governor’s Award for outstanding service to the children of Maryland.
“PROMETHEA” statement about the sculpture by past NLAPW President Muriel Freeman, Sculptor:
PROMETHEA is a female figurative sculpture, made of cast stone and cement.
She is named after Prometheus, a Titan deity in Greek Mythology. He was a creator and protector of mankind. She embodies his strength and mystery.
Since Headquarters has lacked sculptures, it is my pleasure to have PROMETHEA represent our Art Sculpture Members.
Barbara Nunes contributed to this article.
Janet Schulz, Stockton-Lodi Branch, Letters Member
Janet Schulz, who died November 28, 2017 at the age of 86, was a long time member of the Stockton-Lodi Branch of NLAPW. Although ill health had kept her away from most meetings during the last few years, she stayed in touch with branch members via telephone calls. She was a letters member of the branch, but she also loved photography and was the elusive face behind the camera in most of the branch photos.
Janet was author of a children’s book Little Rocky’s True Adventures published in 1991, a number of short newspaper and magazine features, and was writer and photographer for the Lodi District Chamber of Commerce publications for a number of years.
She used the name Janet English Schulz in her writing career, and after many years in the development of “Depot Days: My Cicada Summer, A Memoir with a Mission,” which was published and is available on Amazon.
Her home was a treasure trove reflecting her love of music, books, nature, art, friends, and family. She was a natural story teller, and if something caught your eye, she would say, “Let me tell you about that…” and a delightful anecdote began!
Submitted by Caroline Henry, Branch President
Diane Louise Wold, Modesto, CA Branch, Art Member
Diane Wold died on January 6, 2018; she was 70 years old. Diane was a member of the Modesto, CA branch of NLAPW. She was a person of very diverse passions, interests, and talents, and she will be missed.
In 2015, Diane was part of the Modesto branch’s ekphrastic exhibit at the Carnegie Arts Center in Turlock, CA. Writers and artists from the branch were paired, and their pieces were displayed together in the gallery for a show entitled “Inspiring Women.”
In addition, a catalog was printed with the artwork and accompanying writing, and these 3 images of Diane’s paintings came from that catalog.
Diane enjoyed a very successful career as the art teacher at Ripon High School for twenty years and produced many oil paintings; she was active and prominent in the regional art scene, participating in many art shows and exhibits in the local area.
Diane was also a member of the Association of University Women and a bridge group and enjoyed frequent and extended travel in her retirement. She was a person of very diverse passions, interests, and talents, and she will be missed.
Virginia Dall, Modesto, CA Branch, Letters Member
Virginia Dall, known to many as “Ginny”, died on January 16, 2018, at the age of 92. Her daughter Louise Kantro was a member of the Modesto branch of NLAPW, and Louise often brought Ginny to meetings as her guest. Eventually, Ginny decided to apply for membership, and at age 92, she became an official member of NLAPW. An article about her membership appeared in the Fall, 2017 issue of The Pen Woman magazine, along with a photo of Ginny and the Modesto membership chair. In that article, Ginny is quoted as saying that she was “thrilled, at the age of 92, to be joining her daughter and other women to celebrate creativity.”
As soon as she became a member, Ginny volunteered to be the hostess chairperson for the Modesto branch, and her sense of humor and friendly personality enabled her to make friends easily. Right up to the end of her life, Ginny was working on the creation of a small poetry chapbook about the many pets she had enjoyed throughout her years. Although she was a member of the Modesto branch for only a short time, she will be greatly missed by all.
Virginia’s biography – in her own words:
(Virginia wrote this biography for our membership chairperson to read when she received her official membership certificate from NLAPW.)
“I have always had a love for poetry. When I was 14, I won a 1st prize for a poem called “I Love the Pretty Red, White and Blue” at summer camp. In my home, my father enjoyed providing his own poems in the style of Ogden Nash for important occasions. We also honored the limerick as a good expression of wit.
In college, I took some classes in poetry, usually poetry of a past age. I enjoyed these poems to some extent, but I didn’t fall deeply in love with poetry until I began to teach English to junior college students.
I concentrated on studying basic meaning and examining each line – even each word – of a poem. I also discussed at even greater length the special poetic devices available to poets. I loved the repetition that was sometimes used: for instance, alliteration and assonance, and I liked reading aloud a couple of lines that, to me, made music.
When I retired from community college teaching in 1980, I attempted to write seriously and send in for publication right away. I wrote poetry, fiction, and drama. My church even performed one of my plays. It was during this time period that I learned to take rejections as a reality for beginning writers. I had a few successes, too. I wish now that I had kept better records of my successes, for I had more things published than I am able to remember.
In 2006, after my husband’s death, I moved to Modesto and have enjoyed the poetry community here by participating in three writing groups. From the two critique groups I joined, I worked on closure and avoiding a kind of “preachiness”.
I have come a ways from the limerick and Ogden Nash poems, but this kind of poetry remains a part of my memories and my life.”
~ ~ ~
Urge to Dance
by Virginia Dall
Teddy, permitting me to hold his leash,
unable to control his urge to dance,
leads me down the walkway
where he stops to make his choice.
We turn right, as I thought we would,
strolling and sniffing our way along
a row of pampered lawns and trees,
his attention clearly focused on task.
This late arrival of the Falling Leaves Display
makes the showy presentation even better,
the colors and odors more intense
to those of us who enjoy the Fall.
Teddy, spotting a pile of Liquid Amber leaves
marches through them, tail held high,
stoops to smell (and shivers visibly)
as the pads of his paws touch gold.
~ ~ ~
In Praise of Virginia
March 31, 1925 – January 16, 2018
Unafraid of love,
her large open face greeted all,
affirmed the good she saw.
Stance sturdy, body stout
she radiated light, shared herself
including her music where she played “C”
with aplomb. Pets followed her command,
given in a raspy, gentle voice.
I often wondered, what was the source
of Virginia’s happiness? It wasn’t
her wealth, though she was comfortable,
nor her golden locks, or her flawless skin,
wrinkled by history nor her figure,
determined to obey the laws of gravity.
It was as if her engine of life throbbed,
stoked by the energy of others.
When she smiled the world smiled back,
She was contagious.
So, on those days when the news
is full of war, murder, violence
deception, self-pity, arrogance,
think of Virginia. Let her memory
infuse you with joy.
by Lynn M. Hansen, Modesto Branch NLAPW
February 8, 2018