by | May 12, 2019 | Lisa Black, Karna Small Bodman, Chris Goff, Gayle Lynds, The Writer's Life | 5 comments

A couple of weeks ago, the Rogues mentioned that we planned to honor some of the special Rogue Women in our lives.  We all have one—a mother, grandmother, favorite aunt, or someone who has touched us in some way. We had hoped that some of our Readers might share. Instead, several of the Rogues submitted some wonderful tributes to the women that helped shape their lives….

From Gayle Lynds:

My mother loved to read everything from novels to travel articles and “scandal sheets” – show business magazines on hormones. She’d read recipes, too, one after another as if each were a story. But then it was the 1950s, and many women like Mom “didn’t have to” work. Her girlfriends were fun, smart, and restless. They’d come to our house for coffee and gossip. I loved eavesdropping but never really understood the importance of this ritual that was so dismissed as a time-waster by society.

Years later when I was married and publishing novels, I returned home to discover a pile of The Writer magazines on a shelf. They were Mom’s.

“I always wanted to write,” she admitted.

“But you always were writing,” I realized. 

My mother had been a Secret Rogue Woman, and so were her girlfriends. Their gatherings for coffee were to analyze human relationships, argue over politics, and stretch their minds. To the day she died, my mother could hold a listener spellbound with her stories. She did not need a pen or a computer, just a heart and soul and years of experience in “gossip.”

From Karna Small Bodman:

“Evelyn” won the crown of “Beauty Queen” at Northwestern University, and later received her Masters in Music and taught piano until she was 90. But when WW II got under way, she volunteered to be an “Air Force Aide” and worked on recruiting soldiers. After that she traveled to Egypt as the guest of that country’s leading female journalist, Amina al Saad, and became friends with the widow of Anwar Sadat, after his assassination. She also raised money for orphanages in the Middle-East among other projects.

She even wrote a novel (but it wasn’t published) — Here’s her photo when serving in the Air Force.

From S. Lee Manning:

My mother-in-law, Mildred D. Manning, a poor farm girl who became a nurse, was a true Rogue. To see the world, she joined the army in 1941, and on December 7, 1941, was in the Philippians when the Japanese attacked. She treated the wounded and, with surviving soldiers, evacuated to the island of Corregidor. When the Americans surrendered there, she was one of 66 nurses taken prisoner of war. They were interned in Santo Tomas in Manila for three years with European civilians. While interned, she worked as a nurse to care for the other prisoners. All of the nurses survived – when they were freed, they became famous as the Angels of Bataan. She traveled the country, helping to sell war bonds for the remainder of the war – which is how she met her eventual husband, Arthur Manning, my husband’s father.

The time in the camp took its toil – she lost all her teeth, and she suffered stomach ailments the rest of her life. She also had to deal with anxiety. On a personal note, she was a wonderful warm lady with a great sense of humor, a love of books, dogs, and her family. My two kids adored her. When she died in 2013, the last surviving Angel, we were devastated. She and the other nurses are memorialized in We Band of Angels, and the paperback edition features her in the final chapter, “Last Woman Standing.” Her obituary ran in the New York Times.

From Lisa Black:

Honestly, I can’t think of anyone less Rogue than my mother. Born in 1919, she did exactly what was expected of a woman in her day—she got married and stayed that way until death, ran a household, raised six children, cooked, baked, and loved to garden. Of course, that also happened to be exactly what she wanted to do. In no way did the gentle manner make her a pushover, as anyone around her would quickly learn. 
She enjoyed the good times and muddled through the bad and treated every single person she met with dignity and empathy, not only to their face but in every expression, regardless of their race, religion, economic status or any other demographic check box. Only those who engaged in physically reckless behavior or inexplicably loose morals could earn her harshest criticism, to wit: “She’s got rocks in her head.”

All this makes her, in my opinion, the most amazing person I’ve ever known.

From Chris Goff:

My grandmother Smith, my mother’s mother, was widowed at the age of 37. The wife of a prominent business man, she lived in a beautiful house in Elgin, Illinois, with a high-spirited daughter and the love of her life. All of that changed in an instant. At the age of 32, my grandfather Smith dropped dead of a massive stroke.

Esther Pauline Swanson grew up on a farm in Lily Lake, spoke Swedish until she was five, and went to public school. She was no stranger to hardship, and when Grandpa died she did what she had to do. She found a job, sold the house, and built a new home for herself and my mother. It was a big change going from a three-bedroom home with a wraparound porch to a one-bedroom apartment in a more eclectic part of town. A big change going from a society wife to the Executive Secretary of the Kerber Meat Packing Company. But Grandma never complained. She and my mother shared a bedroom until my mother went off to college. She worked at Kerber’s for 30 years, and she maybe went on two dates after my grandfather died. She liked being introduced as Mrs. Everett Smith.

My grandma’s life was filled with friends, family, and church. She loved to quilt, spent six weeks every year at our home in Colorado, and loved eating lunch at the Woolworth’s food counter. She was never extravagant, and took only one big trip in her life—a trip to Sweden to meet her cousins and see her ancestral home.

Grandma taught my mother and I about love and sacrifice, and instilled in us a strong work ethic, compassion and humility. Gram led by example. And, she never let me win at Yahtzee!

Tell us about a Rogue Woman in your life! We’d love to know her story.

Don’t Miss a Thing!



  1. Lisa Black

    Wow, such amazing women!! I can see their influence in everything we write.

  2. Rogue Women Writers

    I love these tributes — and am especially in awe of S Lee's story about serving as a nurse in WWII and being taken prisoner! This could be the basis of a terrific book – you should write it. I enjoyed reading about the other mothers and grand mothers as well — what a great post for Mother's Day!!! Thanks, Chris for pulling it all together….Karna Bodman

  3. Robin Burcell

    Wonderful stories, all! For me, I'm just grateful that my kids are all home for Mother's Day (to varying degrees between work schedules). That may be the best tribute/gift of all!

  4. Sue K

    Great stories! Lisa, so true about our mom. The “rocks in her head” line didn’t come out too often, but when it did, you knew she was seriously displeased.

  5. K. L. Romo

    Love the article! You ladies come by your title of Rogue Women honestly!!