She sat quietly at the front of the room, a twinkle in her eye, as her daughter gave an acceptance speech on her behalf.
“Mom was always the person that stood behind the person that was at the mic,” Lynda Purdie said in helping her mother, Doris Towers, accept the Lifetime Achievement Award during the Women of Excellence gala in Red Deer on Monday.
Mother of five, Towers was a tireless community worker and a pillar of support during her late husband Gordon’s political career, which included 17 years at MP for Red Deer and six years as Alberta’s 13th lieutenant governor.
While raising their children on the family farm, located in the Horn Hill district, southeast of Red Deer, Towers was a key volunteer with her church and spent more than 25 years working with the Creative Arts committee of the Westerner Exposition Association.
Speaking through her daughter, Towers said it was a pleasure to be recognized for her small contributions to the community.
“My role has been as a wife, a mother a friend and a member of many committees that have endeavoured to promote a better community,” Purdie said on her mother’s behalf.
“I believe that a strong individual becomes a part of a strong family, which then becomes part of a better community,” she said.
The annual Women of Excellence Awards, first presented in 2008, is the brainchild of Red Deer Advocate publisher Fred Gorman, who was a director on the board of the Red Deer and District Community Foundation when the program was created.
Gorman had been window shopping with his wife, Dinah, at a high-end shoe store in a Las Vegas casino when he came across a brochure describing that city’s program for recognizing women’s contributions to creating a better community.
For the first time this year, the committee selected five women to receive the Community Builder Award:
• Denise Kofin, vice-principal of St. Thomas of Assisi Middle School,
• Donna Carter, senior lead of volunteer resources for Alberta Health Services,
• Glorene Ellis, producer, director, pianist and actress in Stettler’s arts community,
• Judy Ann Scott, community volunteer and co-ordinator of the Central Alberta Children’s Festival and
• Tanya Ryga, theatre instructor at Red Deer College.
Other awards included:
• Cattle producer and rural entrepreneur Suan Holmes Manyluk for Agriculture and Environment,
• Visual Arts instructor Trudy Golley of Red Deer College for Arts, Culture and Heritage,
• Equestrian vaulter Jeanine van der Sluijs for Athletics, Recreation and Fitness,
• Carolyn Martindale, city editor for the Red Deer Advocate for Business and the Professions,
• Lynne Paradis, associate superintendent, learning services for the Red Deer Catholic Regional School Division for Education and Training,
• Mortgage broker Alyson Thiessen, founder of Get ‘Er Done Girls for Entrepreneurship,
• Ann Waschuk, dancer and dramatic artist for Health and Wellness,
• Veena Chandra, executive director of Central Alberta Refugee Effort for Human Services and
• Rebecca Raabis, artist and musician, for the Young Women of Excellence.
Awards were presented during a fundraising gala at the Capri Hotel, with proceeds put toward the community foundation’s funding programs.
Please visit www.reddeeranddistrictcommunityfoundation.ca to learn more about the organization and its role in distributing funds for community and athletic projects.