Debbie Chaddock, recipient of the 2016 Lifetime Award Recognition, honored Mary Severine & Barbara Morton at this year’s 40th Anniversary celebration on 11/14/2021. It was a true gift to enlighten our club members about the contributions these great ladies have made to our community.
Barbara & Mary shared these comments later: We were both totally surprised by this award. It seems like the almost 40 years that each of us has been in FRWSD went by very fast. (Barbara would like to thank FR founder Jeff Wynne, who was then a coworker at the County, for inviting her to FR in 1982, when she was first coming out.) This club is where we first met, and where we first met many others who are now our longtime close friends. At FRWSD, there is always someone to walk (or run) with, and conversation flows easily over a shared activity. Everything that we have done with and for FR has enriched our lives, and thus we will keep doing it, as we are able. It is gratifying to see people step up to participate and to serve, year after year, to keep this group going. Thanks to everyone for continuing the good times and good work!
Here’s the full transcript of Debbie’s presentation
I am VERY excited about this award, because it teaches us that we should NOT be fooled by what looks like two timid old ladies walking through the park on Saturdays.
Barbara Morton and Mary Severine are two of the most awesome women who have ever joined Front Runners. Both individually and as the power couple they are, Mary and Barbara have made indelible contributions to this club and to our San Diego community. And—more importantly as far as I’M concerned—to MY OWN LIFE.
So, way back in the 1900s… I believe it was the fall of ’83….
Barbara was FR Membership cochair with John Lockhart. Back in that antediluvian, pre-Internet world, outreach was a bit more challenging than letting prospective members Google “San Diego gay running”. The most common and effective method of outreach was to post press releases and classified ads in strategically selected newspapers. Fortunately, John & Barbara decided to post an ATTENTION GAY RUNNERS notice in the Reader, or this former La Mesa resident might never have found my people!
In 1983 Mary Severine joined FRs as a newbie runner, and right away I could see that her enthusiasm, humor, and charisma would make her the perfect female cochair to follow my own reign. I guess I was pretty convincing, because she co-chaired 2 years in a row: in ’86 with Bob Ross and in ’87 with Gary Schneider, who instigated the infamous baby buggy fiasco at our annual yard sale fundraiser. Perhaps Mary can tell you more about that later.
I’m not sure what took so long, but in 1995, Mary and Barbara fell in love! That’s about the time that Mary—and by spousal extension, Barbara—founded the Gay & Lesbian Sierrans.
This was hugely controversial at the time. But despite the fact that some Sierra Club members actually quit over it, Mary’s charismatic persuasion won out, and the SD Chapter’s executive committee approved the creation of GLS as an Official Activity Section. Mary even completed the rigorous Sierra Club training to become a Certified Outings Leader, and led many wonderful hikes and outings, as did other GLS members.
For the next 8 years, GLS was the largest, most active Sierra Club Section in San Diego County, peaking at almost 200 members.
Both Front Runners and GLS benefited from the cross-pollination, as membership in both groups increased those years.
(I was just one of many who joined the Sierra Club as a result of GLS. And poetic justice prevailed, as I eventually wound up serving as GLS treasurer for a couple years. I suppose it was worth it, as I gleaned a couple GLS girlfriends as a bonus!)
Both Barbara and Mary have actively supported other organizations too, including SD Democratic Club, the UU Church, The Center, and other groups. In the 80s, Barbara helped establish the Gay & Lesbian Coalition of SD County Employees, and until fairly recently, she was also an enthusiastic and formidable yacht racer. Even today she serves on the Senior Advisory Committee at The Center.
You know, there are the challenges you choose in life, and then there are the challenges that choose you. Mary and Barbara have had both, but several years ago they fought their scariest battle when Mary was diagnosed with stage 3b lung cancer. Against unfavorable odds, they worked and fought together—with an army of loving, supportive friends—to beat the cancer, and remain cancer free now, more than six years later!
Throughout the decades, Barbara and Mary have been the backbone of the “W” in F-R-W-S-D since long before the “W” was officially added to the club name.
As Andy Kleinke says, “They not only continue to show up on Saturdays, but they always turn up to volunteer for events like the Pride 5K.
Their steadfast, welcoming presence—and their devotion to each other—sets the foundation of our organization: that we’re here for each other and we take care of each other.”
Mary and Barbara continue to attend and support FRs & Walkers even as they pursue birding, travel, basket weaving, and tapestry weaving. You can tell they see life as a precious opportunity to learn and grow as much as possible and make positive changes in the world. I have SO MUCH admiration, respect, and gratitude for these two fantastic women, and I am thrilled to present them with this
Front Runners & Walkers Lifetime Achievement Award