Mary Campbell, Barbara Neis, and Maureen Griffith
One of the many wonderful benefits of living in Lake Forest and Lake Bluff is being surrounded by amazing families. And often at the heart of those families are loving and generous women we admire. In honor of mothers, we talked with four daughters who say they’re the women they are today because of the mothers who raised them.
There are always certain mothers who gravitate toward leadership roles when the school or church is in need. No matter how many other things they’re juggling, regardless of the number of children they have at home—they step up, perform with grace, and get the job done. This calling almost seems in-born, or at least modeled at a very early age. Maureen Griffith and Mary Campbell today live the example they watched their mother set when they were children.
“My mother taught us that it wasn’t only our responsibility to help those in need, but that it should be part of our everyday lives,” says Mary of her mother, Barbara Neis, who raised four boys along with Maureen and Mary. “She’s always reminding us to be grateful to God for all that you are and all that you have,” adds Maureen.
Barbara’s greatest joy comes from her family. “Her love for her family and friends is constant and persistent,” says Maureen. “Her ‘daily dose’ of love can take many different forms, but you always know she loves you the same today as she did on the day you were born, completely and without regard to what may have happened since.”
Perhaps the most valuable lesson Barbara imparted to her daughters in raising their own children was her reality-based view of the world. “My mother always looks at things head-on,” Maureen explains. “You’re always going to get the adult truth when approaching her with any issues. This wasn’t always what we were looking for but surely what was most helpful and often needed. And she never left us without options to consider. She loves to say ‘you’re never in a box, you always have other choices, but no one said they were all going to be easy ones,’” Maureen adds.
Today, Maureen and Mary work hard to keep their mother’s words present in the lives of their children. “My mom always says to plan family events to keep your children and family close to you,” adds Mary. “Remember, everyone likes to be invited to a party.”
Myra Reilly and Laura Brinckerhoff
A True Friend
To see Myra Reilly and her daughter Laura Brinckerhoff interact is like watching best friends. Unspoken words. Knowing glances. Silent gestures that are clearly understood.
“That’s the thing about my mom,” says Laura, who has one brother and two sisters. “My mom makes everyone feel as if they’re her best and most important friend. But I have to tell them to back off,” says Laura with a laugh. “She’s my best friend.”
Being such a dear friend to so many has made Myra a favorite on women’s boards. Every organization from the Lincoln Park Zoo to Rush to Catholic Charities wants Myra. “My mother has absolutely more energy than any person I’ve ever met. She’s the hardest worker I know. I like to say that she has a ‘velvet hammer.’ In the nicest way, she’ll give you a task and make sure you complete it. But you’ll come away thinking she’s your closest friend…that you’d do anything for her.” And whether the event is for four or 400, Laura praises her mother for pulling off parties that are nothing less than perfection.
Although Myra’s passion for philanthropic causes runs deep, there’s nothing that rivals her love for her family. “My mom would do anything for us,” says Laura. “If we need help, she’ll drop whatever she’s working on to be there for us. My hope is that my boys know that I have that kind of love for them.”
Myra is known for the fabulous trips she takes her grandchildren on when they graduate from eighth grade. “I tell the kids that I’ll take them anywhere in the world that they want to go,” Myra says. “It’s just the two of us on this adventure…and we’ve had some adventures.” At the end of each trip, Myra puts together a scrapbook of all the trinkets and souvenirs she’s been able to stow away as a remembrance of their time together. “No matter how old my children get, they come back to their eighth grade trip as one of the highlights of their lives,” Laura says. “I can’t wait to spoil my grandchildren with those trips.”
Diane Ecklund and Mia Waligora
Seize The Day
The apple didn’t fall far from the proverbial tree in the Ecklund household. “My mother is a dynamo,” says the bubbly Mia Waligora of the mother she adores, an adjective that could just as easily be applied to her. “She does it all. And no matter what life throws at her—and there’s been plenty—she gets back up and soldiers on.”
According to Mia, and anyone who knows Diane, she’s the light and energy of any room she enters. A regular fixture at Lake Forest Health and Fitness, a master Bridge player, and a huge presence in the lives of her six children, 16 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren—Diane lives each day to its fullest.
“My mom always says not to ‘major in minor things…to not sweat the small stuff.’ That’s what I try to do and what I want to teach my own children. I want them to see me loving life—seizing opportunities—just as my mother always has. She’s a ball of sunshine in every way.”
— Ann Marie Scheidler