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Mail Call pays tribute to contributions made by local women

March is national Women in History Month and Call Newspapers annually pays tribute to the contributions local women have made to our quality of life.

Women in History Month originated with the National Women in History Project in the 1970s, which asked a simple question of historians: Where are the women; what were they doing?

That prompted us to ask the same question locally. What started 15 years ago as four weekly installments on women who have made a difference here has blossomed into this annual special section.

Through the stories of four local women, we hope to acknowledge and say thank you to the hard work and industry of women who have made historic and contemporary contributions to the fabric of our life.

We received 18 nominations for inclusion in this feature. We chose four to represent the past, present and future of our area. They are:

• Miss Caroline Freiss, a young German woman, must have felt a bit of anguish 156 years ago when the 24-year-old announced that she would board a ship to America to fulfill her dream of starting schools for the children of German immigrants. It is largely through her efforts that Notre Dame High School, administered by the School Sisters of Notre Dame, came to be. Through that school, and the 264 others founded in this country during her 44 years in the United States, literally millions of lives have been improved.

• Jean Zaleski has been described as an "extraordinary woman'' because she has managed to live her life in an extraordinary way. Her decades of good deeds and daring adventures have left her loved and respected by countless people, including her six children and 20 grandchildren.

• Pollie Richardson is the force behind an alternative education program known as South County Opportunity for the Purpose of Education as it continues to make a significant impact on the lives of young people in south county, their families and the community in general.

• Cara Stuckel is one of those bright stars on the horizon. A junior at Mehlville Senior High School, she is a member of the Student Council, Science Club, National Honor Society and French Club and an active member of the golf team and varsity soccer. Equally as much energy goes into her volunteer work, most of which centers on our environment including an internship at Great Rivers Environmental Law Center downtown and at the Litzinger Road Ecology Center.

Though history books virtually have excluded women, both leaders and ordinary citizens, Call Newspapers is proud to focus on their contributions. It is not our intention to rewrite history, but rather add different perspectives about what is historically significant.

Women of the 19th and 20th centuries forged paths for women in many fields, creating unlimited promise for generations to come.

After reading the capsules we've assembled this week, we believe you'll agree that women today are keeping those promises alive by taking leadership roles in all areas of society.

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