University News

2014 Writing Women Back into History Awards Presentation is March 1

February 13, 2014

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MACOMB, IL - The Macomb Feminist Network (MFN) recently announced that Mary Warnock, Gordana Rezab and Alice Swain are the recipients of the 2014 Writing Women Back into History Award based upon their extraordinary contributions to the Macomb and McDonough County communities.

A reception to honor the women is scheduled for Saturday, March 1, from 10 - 11:30 a.m. in the Western Illinois University Multicultural Center on West Murray Street. The celebration is open to the public.

In an era when a woman with a strong independent voice was a rarity, Swain made herself heard in McDonough County. Her civic involvement included serving as one of the first Macomb City alderwomen from 1959-63, as the president of the Macomb Park Board and as a member of the Macomb Zoning Board.

Swain had a long-standing involvement in health services and as a member of the McDonough District Hospital Auxiliary and American Association of University Women. She was instrumental in starting and chairing the WIU Bloodmobile and in establishing a bi-county health department.

Warnock has a well-deserved reputation as a "dynamo." After retiring as food service director from MDH, where she implemented many new approaches to serving patients and staff, she turned her energies to community endeavors. Through AARP's Creative Elder Options, Warnock spearheaded annual seminars for nursing home staffs to explore new options in meeting the needs of seniors, and is the sparkplug in the development and yearly revising of the McDonough County Senior Services Directory, a publication that won the statewide AARP award for contributions to the community.

As a member of the Macomb Public Library Board of Trustees, Warnock advocated for professionalization of personnel policies and through research, initiated ideas for the expansion of the library that is presently underway.

Rezab had a passion for documents, maps, letters, newspapers, diaries, almanacs, and photographs that shed light on the history of our area. As head archivist at the WIU Library, she developed the division of Archives and Special Editions. In retirement, her book, Place Names in McDonough County, was published, and she served as head of acquisitions for the Western Illinois Museum.

Over many years, Rezab contributed to various civic organizations, including Macomb Beautiful, the League of Women Voters and the McDonough County Historical Society. As president, she spearheaded the drive to identify county cemeteries and to restore the old Macomb cemetery on Wigwam Hollow Road. Through her efforts, the adjoining land has been deeded to the city and converted into a prairie meadow by the Historical Society.
The MFN presented its first Writing Women Back into History Awards in 2009. The reception on March 1 will include a light brunch after which Warnock and the children of Swain and Rezab will tell their stories and be presented their awards.

An opportunity for questions or comments from the audience will follow the presentations. RSVPs are welcome and for more information, contact Sandra Nelson at

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