homepage logo

Girl Scouts’ 2013 Women of Distinction

By Staff | Aug 2, 2013

MARTINSBURG A retired Navy captain, a longtime writer of “local lore,” and an advocate for children have been named the 2013 Girl Scouts’ Women of Distinction.

Jean Neely from Shepherdstown, Ethel Wayble Bovey from Martinsburg, and Susan Caperton from Berkeley Springs will join the ranks of the 28 other area women who have received the honor over the past eight years. The women were selected for their outstanding work in the community, their contribution to their professions, and because they are outstanding role models for young women.

“We are so very pleased with these outstanding women who were selected,” said local Girl Scout area membership manager Kathy Deffer. “The fact that they were nominated by community members, and then selected by their peers former WOD recipients speaks volumes.”

The women will be recognized at the Girl Scouts’ annual Women of Distinction luncheon, to be held this fall on September 25th at the Holiday Inn in Martinsburg. Reserved seating for the luncheon is available for $40 per person. Please contact the Girl Scout office (304- 263-8833) to confirm seating.

Neely, who has resided in Jefferson County for the past 34 years, is a retired Navy captain whose entire non-military career has centered on public service. Thirty years ago she helped found the Potomac Valley Audubon Society, where she served as the chapter’s first president, and has helped the organization grow to more than 800 members. Neely’s service to the community is decades long in 1982, she also co-founded the Jefferson County League of Women Voters, which to this day promotes non-partisan education about candidates and issues. Over the decades, this organization has sponsored hundreds of candidate and issue forums. In 1994 Neely was appointed to the Potomac Headwaters Resource Conservation and Development Council (RC&D). Under Neely’s leadership, this council secured funding for the first county groundwater study. She also has served on the WV Air Quality Board (a gubernatorial appointment) and was chair in 1995-1996 and again in 2000-2001. Neely was instrumental in working with the Eastern Panhandle People’s Empowerment Coalition, formed by Sen. John Unger. The coalition was responsible for drafting the 2002 Farmland Protection Act. In 2010 Neely helped found Shepherdstown Area Independent Living (SAIL), which has as its goal providing services and activities for seniors so they can remain in their own homes. She’s also volunteered with Friends of the National Training and Conservation Training Center, the Land Trust of the Eastern Panhandle, and Friends of the Shepherdstown Library. In 2004 Neely received the Spirit of the Panhandle award from the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation. A 1953 graduate of Bates College in Lewiston, ME, Neely has served on the college’s Board of Trustees and is vice president of her alumni class.

“Lead by example, that’s what makes Jean a role model to girls of all ages,” said longtime friend and PVAS executive director Kristin Alexander. “Ask the many women who have followed in her footsteps and they’ll describe a mentor and a friend”

Ethel Wayble Bovey has spent all her life in Berkeley County. Born in 1915, Bovey has been active in the community for the past seven decades, volunteering for organizations like the Home Demonstration Club (formerly the extension homemakers, now the CEOS), the Lioness Club, and the Soroptimist Club. She is the past president of the Martinsburg High School Alumni Association and past matron of Golden Rule Chapter No. 69, Order of the Eastern Star. Since 1923 she has been a member of Otterbein United Methodist Church, and she has served her church in many capacities, including kindergarten teacher, Fidelity Ladies Class, and editor of the church newsletter. In 1981 then-Governor Jay Rockefeller named Bovey an Outstanding West Virginian. She received a similar honor in 2003 Honored West Virginian from the Mountain State Apple Harvest Festival. In 1995 Bovey was elected Lioness of the Year; in 2001 she was named First Lady of Beta Sigma Phi. In 2008 she received the Martinsburg High School Outstanding Alumni Award. Most recently she has been recognized for her service as “Rosie the Riveter.” In 2012 she was invited to the state capital to help produce a documentary of the endeavors of her fellow “Rosies” during World War II. Bovey is probably most well known locally for her writing she spent several decades working full-time and part-time for The Journal. At the young age of 80, Bovey received her first computer, signed up for a class at the senior center, and soon began writing again for the local lore section of The Journal. She has published two compilations of her feature stories: “Hometown Memories” and “Hometown Reflections.”

“I want to write down the experiences and lessons of the ‘greatest generation,'” Bovey told a friend recently. “We are women of faith, courage and passion, and if I don’t tell them, who will?”

Although Susan Caperton has not logged as many years of service as Bovey or Neely, she has made significant impact on her community. An attorney who received her JD from the University of Michigan, Caperton began her local legal career with Bowles Rice in 1996. She and her husband Gat lived in Shepherdstown at the time, began raising their family of three girls, and later moved to Berkeley Springs after her husband purchased Seely Furniture, now GatCreek Furniture in 1996. Caperton eventually left the law firm to devote her time to her family, only then to come out of retirement in 2008 to take on a two-year stint as executive director of the Morgan County Partnership, a coalition of schools, organizations, businesses and individuals working on alcohol and drug prevention for youth. In the past two years, Susan was instrumental in starting the Morgan County Backpack program which feeds more than 250 children each week and serves as its chair. She also helped organize “Stepping Stones to a Brighter Future,” a Morgan County group dedicated to helping domestic violence victims. Caperton is active in her church, St. Mark’s Episcopal, serving on the vestry there and at Trinity Episcopal when she lived in Shepherdstown. She has been a youth soccer coach, board member of the Morgan Arts Council, a PTO officer, and library volunteer.

“Anyone with a daughter or sister would climb high mountains to have them exposed to Susan Caperton as a role model,” said former WOD Laura Smith. “Intelligent, accomplished, charming, dedicated to her family and communitythe world would be a much better place if we could have a legion of Susan Capertons.”

For more information about the Women of Distinction luncheon, contact Kathy Deffer, area membership manager for the Girl Scout Council of the Nation’s Capital, at 304-263-8833 or kdeffer@gscnc.org