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Strong local women to be featured in exhibit


uilt is hanging at the Visitor Center.

Biographies of five local women will be featured along with a "Rosie the Riveter" quilt at the Visitor Center soon.

The five are: Ida Bartels, Toby Ann Levy, Lynda G. Nutt, Barbara Ann Meyer and Roberta "Birdie" Hensley.

The five have all made a number of contributions to community life here.

Ida married Sid Bartels in 1940, and the two purchased the Deppman Mill at Belvedere just a few days later, only to see it go up in smoke from a fire that someone had set.

She served many years on the Grand Coulee city council and she and her husband were active in the formation of the Grand Coulee Housing Company, getting a number of businesses together to build houses on Roosevelt and Fortuyn. Later, the Bartelses built East Grand Coulee Heights.

Ida believed one of the most important things she did in life was to build. "If you are going to build you've got to fight for what you want," she reportedly stated. She passed away several years ago.

Toby Ann Levy was the first female engineer to work for the Bureau of Reclamation at Grand Coulee Dam, coming to the project in 1968 as a rotational engineer for the Third Powerhouse.

One of the passions of her life was fox hunting. She fox hunted throughout the United States, England, Ireland and Scotland.

Toby was a dedicated horse woman and was involved with show jumping and competing sidesaddle. She was awarded many national championships in the early 1980s on her Anglo-Arabian horses.

Lynda G. Nutt is a graduate of Grand Coulee High School, who eventually left college to take a job and found work as a computer programmer and editor for a Washington D.C. educational radio lobbyist. She returned to Grand Coulee in the 1970s, and in 1977 began her federal career at Grand Coulee Dam, first as a key puncher and then in the public affairs office. Later, she was promoted to staff supervisor for the Visitor Arrival Center and while there became a member of the volunteer fire department and became an EMT.

In 1983, Lynda accepted a job as a park ranger on the lower Snake River for the US Army Corp of Engineers. And in 1994, Lynda founded the US Army Corps of Engineers National Operations Center for Water Safety and was named program manager, locating to Washington D.C. She retired from federal service in 2012.

Barbara Ann Meyer was born in 1924, and passed away in 2008.

She was often called "First Lady of Grand Coulee Dam." She was active in the Red Cross, the Rotary Club, and a member of the board of the Coulee Community Hospital. Meyer became an "enrolled agent" and created Meyer Tax Service.

Meyer was the first to chair the hospital district board, first president of the combined chamber of commerce, first woman board member of the Rotary Club and the first woman president of the local club.

Roberta "Birdie" Hensley was born into a military family in Seattle, started school in Osaka, Japan, and attended eight schools before graduating from Brewster. She later graduated from Edison Technical School in Seattle.

Her drafting skills moved her through two Wenatchee companies to the Third Powerhouse at Grand Coulee Dam and to Hoover Dam in 1987. In 1993, "Birdie" became the only woman to be accepted into the four-year Powerplant Apprentice Training Program at Hoover Dam and was certified as a hydroelectric powerplant operator upon completion. In 1998, she returned to Grand Coulee Dam where she completed more than 32 years of federal service in 2000.

She has been active here as a city council person, member of the Lions Club, Grand Coulee Area Seniors, Coulee Corridor Consortium, the AARP Taxaide Program, and has been involved in the founding of the Coulee Pioneer Museum.

Story boards will feature information of the five women. They are being framed and will likely be ready for display next Friday.

They will be on display along with a quilt already hanging prominently, featuring the iconic World War II picture of "Rosie the Riveter" that has become a symbol for the celebration of women's contributions in the nation. Created by Marlene Oddie of the KISSed Quilt shop in Grand Coulee, the "Rosie's Bomb" quilt has won numerous quilting awards at national and regional levels.

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