On November 12, 1975 the Poughkeepsie Branch held a dinner at the Vassar Alumni House to commemorate the International Women's Year and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of our branch. Eight women were honored for outstanding service to the residents of Dutchess County. Since that time, the Poughkeepsie Branch AAUW has selected a local woman to honor as our Woman of the Year. These women exemplify the goals stated in AAUW's mission statement:
The American Association of University Women advances equity
for women and girls through advocacy, education, and research.
As a child growing up on a farm in Ellenville, NY, Trudy did not dream she would be creating a legacy of service to others. Her family was not well to do and she pitched in with daily farm chores. She blossomed in high school. A fine student, she was encouraged by her teachers and the school principal to aim for college. Trudy got a job with the telephone company as soon as she could work and earned money for college. She juggled her studies, her chores at home and her new job. Even so, she worried that her dream of college would not come true, but her supervisor and friends at the phone company urged her on. She was able to save enough and enrolled at SUNY Oneonta. She earned money by working in the library. The library staff recognized her potential and created a scholarship fund so that she could afford to student teach.
Upon graduation, Trudy took a teaching position in the Spackenkill school district, was married and had two children. When her children were still pre-school, her husband died. With no car, she was in dire straits. Roy C. Ketcham arranged for a car and an elementary school position. She did remarry, but the story does not end here.
She met a woman who did missionary work in the area and joined her on her rounds delivering food. It began her opportunity to "give back"; to honor the many kind folks who helped and encouraged her. She joined the YWCA and soon became a member of the Board. In her travels around the area, she was aware of abuse in families and supported the creation of services for battered women, including education and prevention programs. Ultimately, Grace Smith House, a temporary shelter for abused women and their children was created with Trudy as one of its founders. Trudy visited area high schools, talked to young women, and formed a networking system that drew together law enforcement agencies, mental health organizations and legal professionals with the aim of combating abuse. These efforts continue.
Is that all she did? As a member of Dutchess Outreach she was one of the founders of the Lunch Box. She pitched in where needed, collected bedding or supplies for Gannet House and River Haven, a safe spot for runaways; served on the board of the Mental Health Association, collected clothes for Lutheran relief services.
Her work over the years has been her legacy and AAUW is pleased and proud to name her, Woman of the Year.
** Following her second husband Bob Grundon's death, she has remarried and is now Trudy Pectle.