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"Tish Sommers, Activist"



Tish Sommers

Her biography is titled: Tish Sommers, Activist: and the Founding of the Older Women's League, by Patricia Huckle, Univ. of Tenn. Press 1991.


"Me Retired? I've Just Begun to Fly!" was the slogan Tish Sommers adopted when she began to organize older women in the 1970s. She chaired the NOW Task Force on Older Women; organized the Displaced Homemaker campaign, first in California and then nationally; published a series of Gray Papers on issues like housing, social security, pensions, health insurance and employment. She also founded the national Older Women's League, which has become an ardent voice in support of older women, both in Washington, D.C. and nationally.

She was a role model who inspired thousands of women to construct an active political life. Her OWL activities included a Mother's Day campaign aimed at Congress, a "Health Care as a Right, Not a Privilege" campaign, a Congressional hearing on Death and Dying, and organization with Laurie Shields of hundreds of local chapters across the country.

Maggie Kuhn, founder of the Gray Panthers, had this to say about her: "Tish Sommers was a lifelong revolutionary. She wanted to organize midlife and older women and practice what she had been proclaiming: 'Don't agonize, organize!'"



In her 60s, Tish took up river rafting. She said:

"For me, rivers are a symbol of an activist's life. ...when the only concerns are the next rocks ahead...(we) realize how lucky we all are to be testing our strength and skill against the raging river of this period we live in...Wouldn't you rather be in there with all the excitement than moping on the bank?"

Her papers are available in SDSU's Special Collections library, which includes materials from OWL, the Gray Panthers, National Organization for Women and other women's movement activities; papers from her work in East Los Angeles during the 1940s, and from her work in the civil rights movement in Seattle during the 1960s. Her biography is titled: Tish Sommers, Activist: and the Founding of the Older Women's League, by Patricia Huckle, Univ. of Tenn. Press 1991.

See also:

  • Displaced Homemakers: Organizing for a New Life, by Laurie Shields. NY: McGraw-Hill, 1981.
  • The Not So Helpless Female, by Tish Sommers. NY David O. McKay, 1973.
  • Women Take Care: The Consequences of Caregiving in Today's Society, by Sommers and Shields, Triad Pub., 1987.



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