Our mother, Burnette Severaid Young, is especially proud to have been born in 1920, the same year that women won the right to vote. She identifies strongly with Carrie Chapman Catt and has always been an advocate for women being independent, strong and true to themselves. Just ask her sons-in-law!
Mom is also proud of her degree from Iowa State College in 1942. This was not an easy accomplishment; she was the first in her family to attend college and (except for one quarter) she commuted from her family home in Story City. Trying to find a quiet corner to study chemistry wasn’t easy! Mom studied Home Economics (now called Family and Consumer Science) at Iowa State but the big love of her life has been music.
While in college, she served as President of the music sorority Sigma Alpha Iota and enjoyed a trip to Banff and Lake Louise with that organization. She married someone who shared her love of music (Robert Young — another Iowa State grad!) and she and dad often entertained at community and church events with their vocal duets; they both had great voices. Mom once said there was only one thing she truly loves to do – sing. Mom also wrote patriotic pageants for the Fourth of July using music from different eras in American history.
A mother of five, mom chose to stay home and raise her children herself, figuring she could do the best job of it. As a result, we had the comfort and luxury of coming home after school to fresh-baked bread or cookies - she let us eat lots of them - and having our mom always there to listen. Most of today’s kids aren’t so lucky. And yet there are downsides to that life and mom always encouraged her daughters to have careers. It’s the dilemma that today’s younger women are still trying to solve.
While working as mother and wife, mom also was a leader in church and community groups. Her children, four daughters and one son, have reflected lately on the lessons learned from a loving mother. Here are some of them:
-- Mom taught us not to follow the crowd and to look at more than one side of a problem or issue;
-- She taught us to be kind to all people and not to have elitist attitudes;
-- Her son learned that cooking, ironing, sewing on buttons and other household tasks are the responsibility of the husband as well as the wife;
-- Her daughters learned that it’s important to have financial independence;
-- It’s fun to learn new things (we teased Mom about reading the encyclopedia!);
-- We should respect and learn from other cultures;
-- Mom also taught us how to make yummy crescent cinnamon rolls!
We’re all proud to have our mother’s name in the Plaza of Heroines at Iowa State.
Susan Young Jefka