In July of 1997, the then-Mallinckrodt Chemical Company, based in St. Louis, had one of a series of huge layoffs which impacted its Clayton headquarters and Chesterfield office locations. Relatively new to Mallinckrodt’s corporate communications department, I was one of the unfortunate employees whose jobs were eliminated.
At loose ends and not knowing quite what to do, I happened to mention my situation to Lois Linton, who was the Missouri Eagle Forum state leader at the time and who served admirably in that capacity for many years. Lois told me that Phyllis Schlafly was looking for someone to write and produce Eagle Forum’s monthly education publication, the Education Reporter, among other duties in support of the national organization. The position would be located at Phyllis’s Eagle Forum headquarters office at 7800 Bonhomme in Clayton.
Since I was already involved with Eagle Forum at the state level and shared the organization’s beliefs and goals, I was intrigued. I can’t remember exactly how my interview with Phyllis came about, but before I knew it, I was sitting in her tastefully decorated office in the small 7800 Bonhomme office building, feeling a little nervous as she conducted the interview in what I soon learned was her typical no-nonsense way. Just when I was convinced the interview was not going very well for me, Phyllis announced the salary she was willing to pay me and that I would have my own office as a perk, along with a convenient parking lot right behind the building, which would save me from walking a long way through a corporate parking lot on excessively hot, cold or rainy days.
I settled into my new job with enthusiasm, and thus began a journey with Eagle Forum which continues to this day. I especially treasure the annual Eagle Councils I participated in, and the many wonderful and accomplished speakers I was privileged to hear, who were willing to address the council attendees because Phyllis invited them.
Through the years, Phyllis’s brilliant leadership and strong religious faith have been an inspiration to me. I challenge anyone alive today to describe a more storied and successful career than Phyllis has had. Thanks to her and the dedicated state leaders and other volunteers she trained, we never had to suffer passage of the odious “Equal Rights Amendment,” a misnomer if there ever was one. And while the march of feminism and liberalism has been relentless and discouraging, I always consider how much worse off we might be today were it not for Phyllis’s vision of what our country can be and should be, and her tireless efforts to make it so.
Over the many years of her public life, Phyllis has called to action millions of conservative women who were smart enough to see through the lies of feminism, supported hundreds of worthy conservative candidates, steered the Eagle Forum ship through the shark-infested waters of Washington, DC, and made her voice heard among U.S. Senators, Congressmen and even presidents. I treasure the memory of my nearly six years under her influence and tutelage; it made me a better person. The Education Reporter helped me understand the formidable enemies of good public education, and made me a better writer in the process. I learned so much and really felt I was part of a critically important team, fighting for our freedom and traditional American way of life.
Of course, Phyllis continues to fight today, perhaps most importantly by shining the light on the evils and dangers posed by communist China. In maintaining the America’s Future website, I read first-hand each month the ominous threats we face on so many levels from that country – militarily, economically – and the American people are finally beginning to see the light. Of course, Phyllis has seen it all along, the mark of the true visionary that she is.
Phyllis is a national treasure and her contributions will never be forgotten. I am honored, delighted and yes, a little awed, to have known her.
By Susan Kunstmann