CTA, the theatre department at Corner High School, accepted nominations this summer for women who “epitomize the strength and character of the Southern woman.”
The awards ceremony was held during intermission of CTA’s opening night performance of “Steel Magnolias.” ABC 33/40 anchor Linda Mays served as emcee.
The following descriptions about each honoree were posted on CTA’s Facebook page leading up to the event:
Clarissa Hall Mann
Clarissa married her high school sweetheart immediately after her graduation and then attended a year at Samford University.
However, Clarissa became a stay-at-home mom after having her first baby, three years later having her second child. Soon after, she became a single parent when she and her husband divorced.
While her ex-husband does faithfully pay child support, it does not pay all the bills. Clarissa has been dependent upon other assistance and also keeping a job cleaning houses.
She has graduated from Bevill State Community College with an associate degree and now plans on attending Athens University to become a mathematics teacher.
Clarissa, a woman with a positive attitude, lives frugally, manages a home, goes to school part-time, works part-time, pays all her bills and yet keeps her two sons’ needs first. Through all of this, she has found that she is much stronger than she ever dreamed.
Valorie Tucker is a fighting cancer survivor who was diagnosed four years ago. When I first met Valorie, I had no idea of her diagnosis. I did note that she wore colorful scarves and bandanas but just attributed that to personal style. Little did I realize it was to cover the effects of the chemotherapy.
She was energetic, talked to me about several projects, asked me if she could help in the scene shop building sets, etc. That’s what Valorie is made of — a big ball of energy and pure drive that can push through anything while never complaining.
Her son Alex nominated her and his words are moving: “I have always been scared about her health but now I don’t have to worry because I know she is strong enough to fight through these things — mostly because she doesn’t worry about them at all. I was going through some hard times in my life and couldn’t deal with them alone. My mother came into my room and sat me down. She gave me the usual talk that mothers give, but one thing made me cry that night. She told me that she prays over every article of my clothing as she folds it to put it away after doing the laundry. That night, I learned to be more thankful for my mother.”
Alison Washington, a graduate of Corner High School and later Birmingham-Southern College, where she earned a degree in political science and a double minor in history and philosophy. Always a workaholic, Alison took the skills that she learned in politics, public speaking and research and has forged a successful career with the largest supplemental health insurance company in the world, AFLAC.
Her many accolades include #1 new account opener in the city of Birmingham 2006, # 1 new account opener in the state of Alabama 2009, and #1 producing agent in gross production in the state of Alabama 2012.
Alison says that the key to her success is to always do what you say you are going to do for people; they can read how much integrity you possess and also how phony you are.
Alison, like others, has overcome obstacles of her own. Battling low self-esteem much of her early life (which is alarmingly common among school-age girls) to becoming an outgoing and aggressive, successful career woman.
Alison is a role model for so many young girls in high school today. She stands as a shining example of what young women can accomplish when they surround themselves with positive people who build them up, not tear them down.
Picabo Street was born in tiny Triumph, Idaho, in the shadow of Sun Valley (now our adopted daughter of the South) with no TV and thus, “no false image to follow. Just me and my brothers and my folks.”
Picabo Street taught herself to ski after her dad and brother went on a ski trip, leaving a furious little Picabo behind. This began the career of an Olympian.
Joining the U.S. Ski Team in 1989 at the age of 17, she primarily competed in the speed events of Downhill and Super G and made her World Cup debut at the age of 21.
Winning the Silver Medal in Downhill Skiing at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics, Picabo went on to become the first American to win a World Cup Season Title in a speed event in 1995 and repeated the win in 1996. Picabo then went on to win the Gold Medal at the 1998 Nagano Olympics in Alpine Skiing’s Super G event.
In 1998 at the World Cup in Switzerland, Picabo crashed and snapped her left femur while racing and was in rehab for two years.
She retired from skiing after the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
She has been inducted in the National Ski Hall of Fame.
In 2008, Picabo married John Reeser and is now the mother to four boys, her proudest achievement. “What’s profound,” Picabo says, “is the unconditional love I feel for and from the boys. It’s so beautiful.”
In addition to being an Olympian, wife and mother, she is now a motivational speaker, sportscaster for Fox Sports and a supporter and sponsor of several charities, including Right to Play, Picabo’s Street of Dreams Foundation and Wounded Warriors.
Betty Burtram is dedicated to her family, friends, career and community. Betty is a former government teacher at Corner High School, where she taught students to become involved citizens by learning about their government, registering to vote and participation in political campaigns.
Her “We the People” teams won numerous state competitions and competed nationally.
A loyal daughter, sister, mother and grandmother, Betty lovingly cares for her father by providing meals, medical care and transportation. She is also a trusted confidante and advisor to her sisters and children.
Betty adores her granddaughters and enjoys taking them for excursions to the library and the art museum.
A generous Renaissance woman, Betty supports her community, particularly her school by assisting the arts, academics and athletics through donations and attendance. She loves the arts and theatre but is also passionate about The Crimson Tide.
Elane Jones is known as “The Wise One” at Jasper’s Daily Mountain Eagle where she writes a food column.
Like Ouiser Boudreaux, Elane’s advice is certain to be blunt because she minces no words and it’s anyone’s guess as to what she might say next.
Having lost her father to cancer in 2010, her 28-year-old daughter to breast cancer in 2011 and most recently her husband Rick to a stroke this past June, Elane faces each new challenge with unwavering faith and humor.
She has no patience for pity parties and in her simple yet wise way of explaining why these things happen, she says, “Y’all just need to realize that stuff happens!”
Elane is known for her work with the area’s first responders and her tireless efforts on behalf of storm victims; additionally, she is a longtime volunteer for the Salvation Army.
Peggy Joyce Brasher Davis
Peggy Joyce Brasher Davis, one of the original coal miner’s daughter is a two-time cancer survivor. She became a cosmetologist in the early 1960s and worked in a “Truvy Style” beauty shop.
Now 76 and relying on oxygen, this Steel Magnolia still gets her hair done twice a week and a regular pedicure.
She remains madly in love with her husband of 58 years, whom her father warned her against marrying in 1955. Just maybe her father was wrong.
Cathy Tuggle Maple
Cathy Tuggle Maple is a breast cancer survivor and mother to son Cory, born with a rare kidney disease, and daughter Molly, born with Down’s Syndrome.
With each of these situations, Cathy has used her strength to come out on the other side, a Steel Magnolia.