Trailblazers Recognized

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By Sally Friedman, Correspondent

MOUNT LAUREL – It was a night to remember and to celebrate a very special woman, as well as others who have proudly honored her legacy.

More than 300 gathered at The Westin on Fellowship Road to remember Burlington County’s own Alice Paul, the Quaker suffragist with the steely determination to see that women got the rights they deserved and, in the process, who sacrificed and even suffered.

But the evening was an upbeat and inspiring tribute to those who have followed her example, and have seen to it that Paul’s accomplishments and leadership will live on through those who share her dedication to women’s rights.

Recognized were six women who founded what is now the Alice Paul Institute, but was originally known as the Alice Paul Centennial Foundation.

In 1985, a small and determined cadre of local women from various walks of life decided that the centennial of Paul’s birth in 1885 was the right moment to honor her remarkable place in history.

Present to share and recollect those beginnings was Barbara Irvine, of Cinnaminson, who is recognized as the moving force behind that effort, along with Christine Borget, Judith Buckman, Jean Perry, Pat Williams and Janet Tegley, now of Savannah, Georgia, who was unable to attend Thursday.

Buckman, who also has provided energy and commitment to women’s rights causes, stressed the collaborative efforts of the original Alice Paul movers and shakers.

“We were women together of my mother’s age and my daughter’s age, and it was a great gift for all of us,” said Buckman, who is in her fifth term as president of the National Organization for Women’s Alice Paul chapter.

Buckman recalled how the early group had no office, no experience, very limited funds, but abundant drive and determination. She also quoted the late Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, who said, “You can’t control the wind, but you can adjust the sails.”