HONORED: Mary Louise Eisenhardt, Dr. Marcella Modisett and Bonnie Hare, left to right, were honored during the Girls Inc. “She Knows Where She’s Going” luncheon Tuesday. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)
HONORED: Mary Louise Eisenhardt, Dr. Marcella Modisett and Bonnie Hare, left to right, were honored during the Girls Inc. “She Knows Where She’s Going” luncheon Tuesday. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)
Three Jefferson County women pursuing different career paths overcame similar issues early in their lives to succeed at their jobs - and help break down barriers in male-dominated professions.

Girls Inc. of Jefferson County honored Mary Louise Eisenhardt, Bonnie Hare and Dr. Marcella Modisett during the 10th annual "She Knows Where She's Going" luncheon at the Livery Stable on Tuesday.

Each woman honored began her career when very few women participated or worked in their respective fields of sports, sciences and medicine, Girls Inc. Executive Director Susan Stahl said.

"These ladies were kind of pioneering in fields we encourage girls to explore," Stahl said prior to the luncheon.

Mary Louise Eisenhardt

Eisenhardt, a Madison native, graduated from Madison High School in 1943 and went on to earn her bachelor's degree in physical education and social studies from Hanover College. She earned her master's degree in physical education and social studies from Indiana University.

She began her career as a teacher at schools throughout the region before returning to Madison High School to teach and coach swimming, track, tennis and volleyball. 

"Madison has been good to me," Eisenhardt said during the program, noting her education from the local area helped her to achieve her many accomplishments. "I was able to go out and make my way in the world and come back."

Eisenhardt began her career before Title IX was enacted in 1972. The civil rights law gave women equal participation in sports. But she didn't let that stop her from coaching groups of girls in the sports they loved. 

Instead, Eisenhardt worked along with the Indiana High School Athletic Association's Girls Athletic Association to get varsity sports for young ladies. 

In 1973, Eisenhardt saw that work become a reality when girls' basketball earned varsity teams.

Described as one of the pioneers of girls' sports in Indiana, Eisenhardt was inducted into the Indiana Hall of Fame in 2006. She's also often credited with teaching almost everyone in Jefferson County how to swim.

Eisenhardt has been involved in the Red Cross, Phi Mu Sorority, American Association of University Women and Trinity United Methodist Church.

Bonnie Hare

Hare, also a Madison native, began working as a chemist at Madison Chemical following her graduation from Hanover College with a degree in chemistry. Hare didn't dream of being a chemist as a child. In fact, it was the liberal arts curriculum at Hanover that steered her in that direction, she said following the program.

"Science is a great career for anyone, and it's a really great career for women," Hare said during the luncheon. 

When Hare first began working at Madison Chemical nearly 30 years ago, manufacturing jobs were primarily filled by male workers.

"I have not seen the change in my lifetime that these two ladies have, but I have seen some changes," she said during the luncheon.

During a visit to one of the company's accounts early in her career, a male co-worker forewarned her of all the men in the factory. What he didn't prepare her for was being referred to as "The Skirt" by the production manager. 

Today, Hare works with almost as many females as males. And she is no longer referred to as "The Skirt" when visiting other companies, Hare said.

"The change has really come about," she said.

Hare holds three patents for mechanical plating advances and has been responsible for several lines of products at Madison Chemical throughout her career. She also works on product literature for the company.

Hare is past president of the United Way. She helped found the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity. She is vice chairman of the board for the Community Foundation of Madison and Jefferson County. She is also a founding member of the Women's Giving Circle of Jefferson County and also is a member of the Bethany Circle of King's Daughters'

Dr. Marcella Modisett

Modisett saw many changes during her lifetime - from the right for women to vote to many more women working in the medical field.

The Wabash native never really had any idea of what she wanted to do until her father suggested that she become a doctor. In those days, it was unusual for a woman to do much work outside of the home unless the job was a career in teaching or working as a secretary.

"Most women didn't dare dream beyond the edge of the town where they lived," she said.

Modisett attended Manchester College for her bachelor's degree, and then the Indiana University School of Medicine where she met and married her husband, Jack Modisett.

"I told him no (when he proposed), because I didn't want to do housework," she said during the program. "He said he would help."

After her husband's service in the United States Navy, the Modisetts moved and opened their medical practices on West Street in Madison in 1946. Just four years later, the doctors partnered with Dr. Robert O. Zink and Dr. Lewis Jolly to open the Madison Clinic on Main Street, which became one of the largest practices in the area.

Over the years, she saw several changes in the medical field - including more women as doctors.

"Women's choices are no longer an either/or situation. Women can have careers, along with marriages and children, but the balance is sometimes more like a juggling act," Modisett said. "Women should not equate success with money in the bank or a name on the door. Success is truly measured by the satisfaction and pride one has taken in the life she has lived," she said.

Modisett is a member of the Daffodil Society of Southern Indiana. She has participated in the annual bird count for many years and enjoys wild flowers.

2004: Nancy Bear, Shannon Staicer and June Taylor.

2005: Jae Breitweister, Mary Kay Dwyer and Heather Foy.

2006: Ann Grahn, Sue Livers and Amanda Schmitz.

2007: Narci Burress, Gwen Keller and Betsy Ward.

2008: Mitchell Dunker, McKayla Heller and Shirley Yancey Kloepfer.

2009: Emily Cart, Ginger Davidson, Dottie Burress and Merel Horton.

2010: Krystal Gray, Rev. Vickie Perkins and Margaret F. Seifert.

2011: Stephanie Hellmann, Joyce Imel and Helen Kreeger.

2012: Brenda Eversole, Jill Kelly Koren and Rev. Marge Marvell.