1980 - 1983
Past International President
Maxine Hays was very special to me. She was elected International President at the happiest of times, our Golden Anniversary Congress in Montreux in May 1980, the first time I had attended an international congress.
This tall attractive woman with the easy communicative style and that rich, friendly but authoritative voice was a businesswoman who knew how to negotiate in the world of commerce, particularly in small business. In one of her early messages she said "to become more effective in fulfilling our objectives the international federation must be dynamic in its leadership role". And Maxine carried out thatdictate.
I remember two aspects that stand out from her time – the first one she made a visit to the UK en route home to the USA after a Board meeting in Feb 1982 in Hong Kong that was a successful but tiring experience for her. As the UK PRO, I was there to get publicity for her crowded schedule, which included a major international luncheon at the prestigious Porter Tun room, an
opportunity for her to meet members at Brown’s, a leading London hotel and a visit to Cheltenham in the West of England for another big event and yet another big speech. She charmed everyone with her manner but also impressed them with her serious intent to make IFBPW a force in the future – or as the Hong Kong theme had said – the future is now.
Then came that famous occasion in August 1983, when with her great friend Polly Maldenwald and other USA members, they had the USA President, Ronald Reagan come to the Congress hotel to apologise for reneging on the invitation to the White House for busloads of BPW members looking forward to this event. Catching less headlines but a day to remember was the one attached to that congress and organised by Esther Hymer, when 400 people from 30 countries had a whole day conference chaired by Maxine which covered the whole spectrum of the UN work and particularly for women.
We had not seen so much of Maxine in recent years so I was very happy when she came to the Vancouver Congress in 1999 and so appreciated the time she gave whenever I phoned or emailed her to discuss matters when I was International President. The serious remarks were always laced with her humour and affection. Outside of seasonal greetings, we last exchanged some thoughts just before Lucerne in 2005, when she asked me to "fly the flag for her."
Farewell to an International President who stood tall but met everyone on their level. It was a delight to have known her and we must never forget her famous maxim Together we CAN make a difference!"
By Sylvia G. Perry,
International President 1996 - 1999