In October, 2008 Carol Atkins was inducted into the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame. I had the honor of introducing her that evening at the awards dinner. Her husband Ned, and daughter Cindy and her family were there with her. I looked back in old computer files, and here is what I read when I introduced Carol that evening:
"If I were writing a paper for school about what I would like to be when I grow up, it would be titled “When I grow up, I want to be Carol Atkins.”
Carol has been a grass roots leader working for women's rights most her adult life...and the stories she tells about those experiences – both good and bad - - - give me and other women she meets, the courage to continue to work toward equality and justice for all people.
When you meet Carol, picture her in 1973 - 35 years ago --- as she and several other NOW women organized a demonstration at the Little League World Series that drew several hundred activists. Carol and the others charged onto the field in the middle of an inning and ran around the bases. Carol told me later - - we made it around the bases 3 times! Little League Baseball was changed forever - a change that eventually would allow nearly five million girls to participate in the world’s largest organized youth sports program. Talk about impact! This is just one story I can tell you abut Carol - - but this tells you about her determination, courage, passion, and her vision.
When I was first introduced to Carol, we met over lunch to talk about the possibility of her being a speaker for our Women's netWork luncheon. Her small frame, and soft voice were no match for her fiery eyes and passionate words. I could not help but giggle as she told stories, animated and lively, about working to get equal rights for all people. As she described her adventures, for me it felt like the history pages were being opened and the characters from the past were stepping into the coffee shop. I loved her from that first meeting and take advantage of every opportunity to talk more with her to soak up her energy and determination.
Her message is as loud and clear today as it was then - - and she continues to share her thoughts, ideas, poetry, dreams, and passions with anyone who will listen...and sometimes, even with those who will not. When Carol Atkins speaks...people listen. After all, how can you argue with a woman on oxygen.
Please welcome – my friend, my mentor, Carol Atkins"
...Rest well, my dear friend Carol.