Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Paul Fraughton | The Salt Lake Tribune) Victoria Rowell, an accomplished actress and author, was the keynote speaker at the YWCA's Leader Luncheon held at Salt Lake City's Grand America Hotel. Friday, September 21, 2012
Actor salutes ‘extraordinary’ women at YWCA luncheon
Sucess story » Victoria Rowell tells story of foster mother who inspired ballet career.
First Published Sep 21 2012 07:18 pm • Last Updated Sep 21 2012 08:09 pm

The ravages of breast cancer, scoliosis and Paget’s disease didn’t stop Agatha Armstead from teaching her 6-year-old foster daughter to dance.

Those lessons, based on an article she found about ballet’s six basic positions, would propel Victoria Rowell to the American Ballet Theater and a television career.

At a glance

Outstanding achievement awards

Brenda Joyce Burrell » Adjunct Weber State University professor, education

Norma Carr » Salt Lake Community College athletic director, sports/athletics

Natalie Gochnour » Salt Lake Chamber executive vice president for policy and communications, business

Rev. Elizabeth S. Hunter » Cathedral Church of St. Mark, human services

Leigh Neumayer » Surgeon and University of Utah School professor, medicine/health

Boyer Jarvis » Community activist, honorary award

Source » YWCA

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"You just couldn’t hold this woman down," said Rowell Friday at the Grand America Hotel. "I don’t sit here alone — I sit here flanked by extraordinary women."

The YWCA presented outstanding achievement awards to five such Utah women — and its first man — during its annual Leader Luncheon. The organization’s biggest fundraiser drew some 900 people to the Grand America hotel.

As she stood to deliver the day’s keynote speech under the light of a large crystal chandelier at the high-end hotel, Rowell thanked the organizers and award winners — then recognized the wait staff, cooks and housekeepers, or "these people who make the world go around, so many of them women."

Rowell is a former star of "The Young and the Restless" and "Diagnosis Murder" (which also starred Dick Van Dyke) as well as a former foster child. She was born in Portland, Maine, to a mother who could trace her ancestry back to the Mayflower, a woman she described as "so loving, so beautiful, but so mentally fragile." She never knew her father.

Rowell entered foster care at the age of three weeks, and was raised by a series of families. Inspired by Armstead, who once hoped to be a professional jazz pianist, Rowell won a Ford Foundation scholarship to the Cambridge School of Ballet at age 8, according to her biography and memoir, The Women who Raised Me.

She parlayed her dance skills into an entertainment career, but not without the help of social workers and teachers who worked between the rules to help by buying ballet slippers or with bus fare.

" I want to remind you this is not easy work," she said. "I have seen people work themselves to a thread."

The YWCA focuses on "eliminating racism and empowering women" with community education, leadership training, transitional housing, a domestic violence crisis phone line and shelter, and more.


story continues below
story continues below

Found in 1906, the organization has served women seeking work during the Depression, servicemen during both World Wars, and relocated Japanese-Americans after World War II. It also opened Utah’s first domestic violence shelter in 1976.

lwhitehurst@sltrib.com

Twitter: @lwhitehurst



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.