It’s National “Women’s History Month”
And Conshohocken Has Had Its Share of History Making Women
By Jack Coll
March 24, 2019
In honor of Women’s History Month, (celebrated in March every year) I thought it would be kind of cool to point out a few of Conshohocken’s prominent females and a few area female first. Every year the National Women’s History Project declares annual themes of Women’s History Month, for instance back in 2001 it was “Celebrating Women of Courage and Vision,” in 2003 it was “Women Pioneering the future,” and this year, 2019, the slogan is “Visionary Woman: Champions of Peace & Nonviolence.”
As I read the slogans from over the years of the Women’s History Month celebrations I think of Conshohocken females who fit that slogan, not because they wanted to, it’s just who Conshohocken is!
Below is a partial list of Conshohocken “Female First.” This list was composed from my memory, and research, it certainly doesn’t cover the entire list of Conshohocken’s female first but feel free to add to the list in the comment section.
The following list was reproduced from the book “Conshohocken & West Conshohocken-People, Places and Stories,” written by Jack and Brian Coll.
Madeline “Madge” Monacella: Conshohocken’s first female Councilwoman, elected in 1981.
Rhoda M. Drayer: First female to serve on the Board of Managers of the Conshohocken Fellowship House
Dayle Malantonio: First female President of the Conshohocken Fellowship House and a volunteer for many of the borough’s leading organizations.
Mrs. Jasper Farmer: A woman pioneer lime operator founded Whitemarsh Township.
Brigete “Bridie” Getzfread: For nearly half a century Bridie contributed to the George Clay Fire Company and St. Gertrude’s Church in many different capacities in West Conshohocken.
Rev. Ella Nace: Ella Nace, a lifelong West Conshohocken resident was appointed Pastor of theHoliness Christian Church of West Conshohocken in 1929, becoming the first female to be appointed to that position in the West borough. She maintained that position for many years.
Darlene Hildebrand: Conshohocken’s first female Executive Director at the iconic Fellowship House, Darlene is a Hall of Fame athlete at Philadelphia University, Basketball.
Donna Frankenfield: West Conshohocken’s first female Mayor.
Jane McDonnell Kelly: A Conshohocken resident who was Montgomery County’s first female Tax Assessor.
Maddy Crippen: Conshohocken has had many great athletes throughout their 169 year history, Maddy is Conshohocken’s only Olympian. Maddy won two national championships as a member of the 1998 and 2003 World Championship Team. Maddy participated in the 2000 Summer Olympics and finished sixth in the four-hundred-meter individual; medley.
Brenda Mason: First female basketball player at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School to score 1,000 points over three year career. The two-time captain of the varsity squad went on to play at the University of Maryland.
Tammy Greene: Hall of fame athlete at both Plymouth Whitemarsh High School and Philadelphia University, as a senior at Philadelphia University in 1993-94 she led the nation in points in Division Two Basketball.
Nikki Szili and Danielle Fritz: Nikki at ten years old and Danielle at eleven years old were the first females to play Conshohocken Midget Football. In 1975 they were also the first to compete in the Keystone State League playing among 3,000 boys. A State Supreme Court ruling opened the door for female participation in the sport.
Kelly Bolger: The first Conshohocken female to play in the major division of the Conshohocken Little League Baseball, she played for the Cardinals.
Anna Dare: Anna became the first female to make the All-Star team in the Conshohocken Little League baseball program history as a regular back in 1983.
Kim Lambdin: Kim was Conshohocken Little League’s first female to be an alternate for the All – Star Team and the second female to play in the major league division of the league.
Donna Donovan, Patricia Ann Carroll, Laura Liewinko, Kathy Carroll, JoAnne Shafer, and Tish Schank became Conshohocken’s first female Soap Box Derby participants in 1972.
Janine Myers: Conshohocken’s first female Soap Box Derby Champion.
Amy Tomczak: Conshohocken’s first female to record back-to-back Soap Box Derby Championships in 1981 and 1982.
Peggy O’Neill: Conshohocken’s first female Tax Collector
Darlene Groves Davis: First African American female principal at Conshohocken Elementary School. First African American to serve on the Conshohocken Fellowship House Board of Managers.
Harriet Wetherill: Harriet Wetherill was the first female elected to the Plymouth Township Board of Commissioners. She also served as a Republican committeewoman in the mid 1950’s when females weren’t very popular in the world of politics. She served as a committeewoman until her death in 1994.
Connie Shaffer: Connie was Conshohocken’s first female police officer.
Joann Scharff: First West Conshohocken female Councilwoman.
Patricia Barr: First West Conshohocken female Council President.
Gwen Wilfong: Gwen was the first West Conshohocken female Police Officer.
Marie Leonard: First female firefighter in West Conshohocken, George Clay Fire Company.
Mrs. William B. Read: Organizer and first president of the Conshohocken Community Center in the early 1920’s.
Annie Tiernan: Hired by James Harry, who employed her as the borough’s first Telephone Operator at the Harry Drug Store once located at 37 Fayette Street.
Nancy Lee Hammer: First female Fire Police Captain at Washington Fire Company.
Jean Lukens: Conshohocken’s first female firefighter, Conshohocken Fire Company No 2.
Kim Nolan: Conshohocken’s first female firefighter, Washington Fire Company.
Beth Januzelli: Conshohocken’s first female Fire Marshall
Rachel Intrieri: First female Colonial School District Board member.
Stephanie Cecco: Conshohocken’s first Recreation Director, and Conshohocken’s first female Borough Manager.
So these are the females on my list of prominent females and/or female first. Did I forget someone or leave someone off the list? Feel free to comment with their name and achievement!
Perhaps we can all take a minute and salute all of our females in Conshohocken and vicinity who strap on their work boots every day, weather you pack lunches and get the kids off to school, or are out-the-door in the early morning hours to join the traffic parade on your way to work.
After all this is “Women’s History Month” and its beginnings can be traced back to 1911. “Woman’s History Week” is also celebrated in March and on March 8, “International Woman’s Day” is celebrated.
Thank you to the ladies in our lives and the ladies around us that continue to make Conshohocken the greatest town in America to live in.
And Hey, once again
Thanks for the memories!