Cape Girardeau businesses and organizations might have seemed peculiarly lacking in leading women Thursday, as many of the area's top female professionals and civic-minded women attended the Zonta Club of Cape Girardeau's Women of Achievement luncheon.
Although the Zonta Club of Cape Girardeau has been giving out Women of Achievement Awards for 15 years, this is the first year they have held an event to distribute the awards.
The luncheon was also a fund raiser for local Zonta service projects such as the Southeast Missouri Network Against Sexual Violence, the Safe House for Women, several literary projects and providing scholarships.
The club's Celebration Award also made its debut this year, with Poplar Bluff native Linda Bloodworth Thomason as its first recipient.
Bloodworth Thomason is probably best known as the creator and writer of "Designing Women" and "Evening Shade," but she has also served as executive producer on three other television series. She recently released her first book, "Liberating Paris," and is set to direct a movie with Demi Moore and Sissy Spacek in November.
"We immediately thought of Linda because she's done so much for Southeast Missouri. It was an obvious choice," said Zonta member Maria Childress, who was on the luncheon's steering committee.
Bloodworth Thomason talked to the crowd about her book, which she is in talks to have made into a movie. She also discussed the Claudia Foundation, which she created and is based in Poplar Bluff.
The foundation has several programs, which encourage reading, offer scholarships and promote community service.
She said the award was special to her because it came from Southeast Missouri.
"I think to be honored by the people where you come from and who share your same heritage is one of the greatest things in life," she said.
Ruth Rueseler Knote and Cheryl Mothes received the 2004 Women of Achievement Award.
Knote co-wrote "Barbecuing and Sausage Making Secrets" with her husband, Charles, in 1993. The successful book was integral in starting the Cape Girardeau Barbecue Contest, where Knote has coordinated the judging every year. Outside of barbecue, Knote is busy as the chairwoman of the River Campus board of managers.
Mothes is an investment representative with Edward Jones, is area director for Zonta International, and leads committees for the Jackson Rotary Club, the United Methodist Women and the Grace United Methodist Church Foundation.
"This means more to me than any other award I could get," Mothes said. "It represents improving the status of women and women's achievements."
The rest of this year's Women of Achievement nominees were Vernice Baumstark, D.D. Buerkle, Mary-Ann Maloney, Mary Spell, Marge Sullivan and Kathleen Wolz.
In addition to the presentation of awards, the luncheon also featured remarks from state Rep. Jason Crowell and by video, U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, who could not attend the event, and the recognition of Zonta scholarship recipients Jennifer Markin and Kyla Horrell.
335-6611, extension 182