Anders: Volunteer and more for over 55 years

Highland County Women’s Hall of Fame

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Editor’s note: This is the third of a five-part series on the five local women who will be inducted into the Highland County Women’s Hall of Fame at the annual recognition dinner on Tuesday, Aug. 16. The event starts at 6 p.m. at the Southern State Community College Atrium in Hillsboro. Tickets are $16 each and can be purchased at The Times-Gazette.

One of the inductees into the Highland County Women’s Hall of Fame is Marilyn Morris Anders. This is what Gretchen Huffman wrote about her in a nomination letter:

Elizabeth Taylor’s inimitable career was launched with the story of “National Velvet.” Ironically, right here in Highland County, Ohio, and at just about the same time, we had a story that surpassed that one.

I am thinking of Marilyn Morris Anders, who was reared on a farm just outside of Leesburg. A horse lover from early childhood, Marilyn was winning shows all over Ohio and beyond at an early age. I can picture her in my mind: a little brunette with long hair, in an English riding habit, homemade by her grandmother, riding and winning equestrian events of all kinds. In her black habit with jodhpurs, boots, derby hat and pigtails flying, along with her perfect riding form, she was a sight to behold.

By the time Marilyn was 10 or so, her unassuming parents stopped entering her in competitions; they were embarrassed because she nearly always won every event.

So then Marilyn began breaking and training ponies and horses for others. She arose at dawn to feed the animals, and after school she worked at the barn until dinner time or even later.

By the time Marilyn was 16, she had earned and saved more than enough money to purchase a brand new car, for cash.

She chose to attend the prestigious Stevens College for Women in Columbia, Mo., partly because she could take equestrian classes there.

Later, Marilyn married a “dude,” but she quickly turned him into a knowledgeable horseman who traveled all over the country as a much sought-after horse show judge.

Marilyn became a 4-H adviser and key leader and continued in these capacities for 55. Countless Highland County children learned to ride as members of her Klip Klop Klub.

Kay Rittenhouse had two daughters under Marilyn’s tutelage. “Dedication is the word that comes to mind when I think of Marilyn,” she said.

Another of Marilyn’s proteges, Krista Gard of Hillsboro, was a member of that club and later served with Marilyn as a 4-H adviser for 10 years. Krista met her future husband, Travis Gard, there. Marriage didn’t change things much. Krista showed horses through her pregnancy and Travis is still competing in calf-roping events. Krista says, “Baby Blair is destined to be a horsewoman, too. We horse people are a different kind of breed – we transfer to our daily lives that determination and strong work ethic we acquired from training under Marilyn.”

Marilyn was honored upon her retirement from 4-H by the Highland County Agricultural Society at its annual awards dinner, but that was small recompense for 55 years of involvement.

If honesty, integrity, intelligence, talent, high moral values and dedication to the development of youth are virtues worth honoring, then the name of Marilyn Morris Anders should be enshrined among those held in highest honor in the history of Highland County women.

Nicola S. Eyre wrote: I worked with Marilyn Anders for 31 years. Marilyn began her volunteer career at the age of 18 and continued as its organization adviser for 55 years. She was always a hands-on teacher, working directly with the youth. As a 4-H agent who once knew very little about horses, I learned that Marilyn was serious about her role as an adviser. Whether it was a specific gait, a pattern or body mechanics, Marilyn was always there with patience and understanding. She was dedicated to her members and worked hard to inform parents of rules and regulations with the expectation that they would follow them.

Marilyn worked with members whether they had a $100 horse or a $5,000 horse. Marilyn expected them to be polite to judges, fellow competitors, other members’ parents and officials. She was highly respected in Highland County and in surrounding counties. As the steward during our state fair qualifying and county horse shows, she was always organized and made sure the results were publicized in the local media, to give youth the recognition they deserved.

Marilyn encouraged her members to participate in service projects, local parades, and even activities that were unrelated to showing horses. They became 4-H teen leaders and camp counselors and participated in horse skillathons, horse bowls, and drill teams. Marilyn encouraged them to work hard to develop their skills as well as to fill out report forms and scholarship applications.

Marilyn served on the county 4-H committee, Extension Advisory Committee and Ohio State 4-H Horse Committee, in addition to supporting many 4-H fundraisers for our Highland County Endowment.

She was a good sounding board for me and could read situations and foresee potential problems. She literally worked with and supported hundreds of 4-H members and helped them to become the kind of adults we would want as co-workers, leaders of our communities and committee representatives. Marilyn represents the best in volunteers and deserves to be recognized as one of the newest Highland County Women’s Hall of Fame members.

Dr. Susan Hodson Rinehart wrote:

Marilyn helped shape my life in so many ways. As my 4-H adviser of the Klip Klop Klub (which Marilyn named and the name was retired when she retired), she nurtured my love for horses and helped me to succeed in life. My career as a 4-H youth development agent was a result of the many positive experiences I had under Marilyn’s guidance.

Now, when my daughter shows horses, I reflect on and daily use things that Marilyn taught me, not just in horsemanship, in life in general.

Under Marilyn’s guidance I learned to be a gracious winner and an equally gracious loser and to always leave the show ring with a smile. She taught me that hard work and dedication will pay off, whether it be in the show ring or throughout life.

I am now a 4-H adviser of a horse club in Hocking County. When the members heard the name of my former 4-H club, they insisted our club should be the Klip Klop Klub, and Marilyn agreed.

I only hope that I can be half the adviser that Marilyn was to me.

Robert Hodson, former teacher, 4-H agent and banker, wrote: I knew Marilyn when she was a student in high school and have observed her over the years: off to college, marriage, motherhood and a leader in many things. Her former students in 4-H continue to follow her example in their own lives. Even in later years, she continues to inspire others.

Judy Franklin wrote: I wish to recommend Marilyn Anders for the Women’s Hall of Fame. My daughter and granddaughter were both members of her club. This has been so rewarding in their lives. They both have shown and placed at the American Quarter Horse Congress. Marilyn was such a big part of making this happen in their lives, as well as in the lives of many children in her 4-H club.

Please give her your greatest consideration.

Highland County Women’s Hall of Fame

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